Friday, April 23, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas and Mustard Greens

So I made this a few weeks ago, but I felt like posting tonight.  This is a light vegetarian dinner.  The kind that I would eat in summer when my appetite is small or if I ate a big, unhealthy lunch.  I had mustard greens (as it turned out they were actually collard greens, but same concept) so I needed something to do with them.  I found this recipe on Fat Free Vegan, however I made it not fat free.  I think she should be more concerned with the ridiculous amount of sodium in this recipe than adding a little extra fat.  She recommended cooking everything in vegetable stock.  I used olive oil instead.  A little oleic acid and monounsaturated fats never hurt anyone, but stock and soy sauce (plus extra salt) might have.  I'll give you my version, not hers, since that's what this blog is, right?  In other news I made orzo with chickpeas, tomatoes and fresh herbs and a little feta for dinner tonight.  It was good, but I think I tried too hard to have fun with herbs and should have just stuck to one (probably would have gone with the lemon balm, which I had never heard of or how to use, but I tried a piece and it tasted fresh and lemony, so I decided to add it and something else that was too bitter).

But I thought this was a great recipe.  I'm a big fan of chickpeas, garlicy greens, and warm balsamic vinegar with my veggies.  It was salty, spicy, vinegary, garlicy, basically full of flavor.  Yum.  Anyway, here we go.

Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas and Mustard Greens
Serves 2

10 oz mustard greens
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped (this might be what attracted me to the recipe)
1 (large) pinch red pepper flakes (i.e. crushed red pepper)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 soy sauce (I use the lower sodium kind)
1/4 tsp sugar (I may have forgotten this, also the recipe also suggests agave nectar, honey would probably also work, but isn't vegan)
1 c cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Remove large stems from the greens and discard.  Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces.

In deep pot or wok, saute the onion in the oil until mostly faded to pink, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and a little more oil or some water, stirring, for another minute.  Add greens, a tablespoon or two of oil, and cook, stirring, until greens are wilted but still bright green, about 3-5 minutes. Remove greens and onions from the pan with a slotted spoon and place in the serving dish, leaving any liquid in the pan.

Add vinegar, soy sauce and sugar to the liquid in the pan (if there is none, add a little water or vegetable stock).  Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by about half. Spoon the chickpeas over the greens and drizzle the sauce all over.

Serve warm with additional balsamic vinegar.  A crusty baguette would probably go well (and you could dip it in the vinegar).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Restaurant Review: Evos

I've been super apathetic when it comes to making meals lately, which is unfortunate with all the fun stuff we get from the CSA.  The most notable thing I've made lately is a salad with lentils (wow, that's so cutting edge) and a delicous vinegrette.  I did however learn that in order to keep a vinagrette homogeneous you should add some sort of emulsifier: egg yolks (um, not if I'm not cooking it), mayo (does this not defeat the purpose of vinegarette?), mustard, or honey.  I don't keep mustard on hand (though maybe I should, it actually comes up a lot), so I used honey.  And honey made it delicious too.

But yeah, I've been pretty lame in terms of food.  Though I do have tons of things I've made over the past few months that I haven't posted, I just need to remember what they are... did I post the carrot souffle?  That was a good one.  I'm going to have to put up the balsamic glazed chickpeas and mustard greens.  It was delicous.

But today, today I am posting about Evos because it's Earth Day.  Evos is a restaurant I've heard about a bit, as they just opened in Midtown Atlanta (it's a chain also appearing in California and Florida).  Their concept is healthy fast food: the meat is humanely raised an hormone free (well, the beef is anyway), all the produce is organic.  They don't fry their chicken/fries and the milkshakes are low fat and organic.  So this is right up my alley right?  It took a free Earth Day milkshake to get me through their doors (plus two coupons will keep me going back for the next month).  I met up with a friend at the restaurant and although this is one of the few places where I feel great about eating meat (it's the well raised kind), I wasn't in the mood for it, so I ordered the veggie burger, topped with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and light ranch dressing.  It was great: one of those veggie burgers where you can see the veggies in it, as opposed to fake textured soy protein compacted to a strange texture.  Plus the avocado and ranch made it drippy and moist and bursting with flavor.  My friend got the Thai Chicken Wrap, and although I only tried a bite, I'd say it was pretty great too.  I got a vanilla milkshake because I'm giving up chocolate for a little while, and it was nothing special, but it was free.  And I never think that vanilla milkshakes are special, heck, I never even think chocolate milkshakes are special.  With the standards, I'm an oreo girl (Oreo is a standard flavor of milkshake, right?), but I'm more excited about peanut butter, fruit flavors or fruit flavors plus chocolate.  Or malts.  I love a good malt.  Anyway, that was a huge tangent, the milkshake was refreshing and free and went well with the veggie burger.  But the major advantage it had was that it was not too big.  Often milkshakes come in those big metal cups and are about 3 times what you should drink.  This one was the right size.  In fact, the burger was the right size, and it seemed that the wrap was the right size.  I didn't feel too full, but I was satisfied.  Then again, the biggest problem with fast food is the serving size, not necessarily what the food is (though it's of course, not ideal to eat every day), so I thought this encouraged good eating habits.  It was however more expensive.  A burger without fries or a drink was $5, as opposed to a double cheeseburger at McDonalds or Burger King, which are on the dollar menu.  They are also made of corn, essentially, which is subsidized by the government.  Oh well.

Evos=good lunch alternative to fast food.  Then again, it's not like I ever eat fast food for lunch.  But a very friendly place with some nice promotions.  They gave me a coupon for a free burger good for the next 4 days (no purchase necessary!)  I'll be going back very soon, since it will be free.  Oh, one thing I forgot to mention: gourmet ketchup.  I am not a ketchup eater at all, but I tried the garlic and the cayenne varieties and decided french fries might be worth pursuing just to eat the (garlic) ketchup.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bread

So I know at least one of you readers is allergic to milk and has commented on how all my bread recipes have milk (but let's be honest, most bread recipes have some form of milk whether powdered or liquid or in butter).  This one doesn't, then again, I'm not sure how great of a sandwich bread it would make (or it could possibly be an awesome peanut butter and something sandwich bread in its ideal form, I'm not sure). After a few bites from the end (which are certainly not completely indicative of how this bread will taste, seeing as there is less jam at the ends), I'd say the taste is good, but this recipe has a few issues.  First, bread does not roll well when you can't seal it together because of jam, which means the middle is pretty loose (which makes it a not very good sandwich bread).

*Also I saw it had to rise for 12 hours and was shocked.  Twelve hours?  And it uses quick rise yeast?  Really.  I checked it when I went to bed, which was 3 hours after mixed the dough and it had barely done anything.  This morning though, (which for the record was only 10 hours later) it was perfect.  So yes, blend this the night before you want it, and it does make a nice morning bread.

**It's extremely sticky which might be exaggerated by the Atlanta humidity, but I really don't think there is enough flour in it, or at very least, when rolling it out, you should make sure EVERYTHING is floured thoroughly.  It says to lightly sprinkle flour on the dough before rolling it out, but I was too shy about this and it was a sticky mess that was hard to work with and hence make into a solid loaf.  But again, being in Atlanta might be part of the problem.

***Another issue: the baking time.  It says about 75 minutes at 450.  Seriously?  I can't think of anything that should cook that long at 450.  Granted, I'm still kind of a newbie.   I baked it for about half an hour, turned off the oven and let it sit for another 15 minutes and it came out a little brown in places.  So I would say 35-40 minutes is probably sufficient.  The 450 means that the crust will be pretty hard even though the bread is soft (right?).  So (I think) if you want a less crusty crust you should bake it on a lower temperature (but even then I think 75 minutes is way too long).  Someone more experienced than me can correct me if I'm wrong on the statement of making a softer crust.  Oh, also if you want a less crusty crust you might want to avoid the egg wash.  But it does make it pretty.

Here is the recipe in it's original form, with my comments above starred.  If I ever make it again, I'll let you know what modifications I actually make.  I think it's likely I will make it again.  It's not too hard and requires less time where you have to keep an eye on it (by this I mean during the first rise you can sleep or do something productive which is usually not true of bread) and it tastes good.  But like I said, it needs improvements.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bread

- One 8-inch loaf; 1 1/3 pounds -
Adapted from My Bread by Jim Lahey.
1 large (about 60 grams) egg, beaten
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (280 grams) bread flour
2 tablespoons (20 grams) whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon (4 grams) table salt
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) instant or other active dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (260 grams) cool (55 to 65 degrees F) water
3 tablespoons (50 grams) unsalted smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup (35 grams) unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, whole
1/4 cup (35 grams) unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup (100 grams) seedless fruit jam of choice
nonstick cooking spray
additional flour for dusting
1. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the beaten egg for glazing the bread. In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, salt, yeast, and the remaining egg. Blend the water and peanut butter in a blender until smooth (some settling will occur if this is left to stand, so blend just before using). Add mixture to the flour mixture and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough without any lumps, about 30 seconds. Stir in the whole peanuts until evenly distributed. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, about 12 hours**.
2. When the first rise is complete, sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour*. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Lightly flour your hands and gently pat and pull the dough into a rough rectangle about 8 by 12 inches.
3. Now you're going to make a sort of jelly roll: Position the dough so a long side is in front of you. Spread the jam evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Lift up the far side of the rectangle and fold one third of it over toward the center, then continue rolling up the remainder into a cylinder. With the seam on the bottom, tuck the ends of the roll under to seal them, so the jam doesn't ooze out during baking.
4. Lightly coat the loaf pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle half of the chopped peanuts into the bottom of the pan. Gently transfer the dough, seam side down, to the loaf pan. Sprinkle the remaining chopped peanuts onto the dough. Cover the dough with a towel and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 hour. The dough is ready when it has doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.
5. About 15 minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 450°F, with a rack in the center.
6. Brush the top of the dough with the reserved beaten egg. Bake until golden, about 1 hour and 15 minutes***. If the peanuts start to darken, loosely cover the loaf with foil. Use pot holders to invert the pan onto a rack, remove the pan, and turn the bread right side up to cool thoroughly. (Don't dawdle--the bread will get soggy if it cools in the pan.)