Monday, August 18, 2008

oh, life.

I've sure you're sick of reading me say it, but I've been so busy! Work is kicking my ass, there are always a million things to do around the house, a million things to do with family and friends and assorted obligations and responsibilities and the like. In sum, I'm tired and no end is in sight.

But, I have been eating and cooking a little along the way. Some highlights along the way have been...

1. this Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake from (guess where!), Heidi Swanson's blog. Barbara and I, along with the E-dawg, went to dinner at some friends' house last week, and had a lovely evening with lovely food. One friend eats a gluten-free diet, so when I saw this recipe I knew it was the winner. Even those among us that hate goat cheese (I know! Blasphemy!) loved it. My photo of the cheesecake right out of the oven isn't as pretty as Heidi's, but it smelled so good I almost dug in right then.

2. While I was on a zucchini-grating bender for the cheesecake, I decided to play around with making some veggie pancakes with all my zucchini. I grated a few zucchini, drained them (and squeezed more moisture out for good measure) and a couple potatoes. Threw in some minced onion and herbs (dill, parsley, chives and basil), a couple beaten eggs, some freshly grated parmesan, salt and pepper and about 1.5 cups of flour. Mixed it all together, and dropped it by heaping spoonfuls into a skillet that was over medium-high heat with some olive oil. I served these with a drizzle of crema, and they were really tasty! And, they were so easy and nice, I have been thinking of all sorts of variations with different vegetable and herb/spice combinations.

3. Roasted Quinoa with Potatoes and Cheese from Mark Bittman's, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. He said that boiling and then roasting the quinoa would give it a crispy, nutty texture. Some of it on the edges was, but mostly it was just like quinoa when you just boil it. However, I did take it out halfway to go pick up Barbara (and loosely covered it with foil), and then put it back in the oven, so it definitely was user error. It was pretty and colorful (would've been more colorful if I'd had red bell pepper; I used green), and tasted really good. It was plain-ish, but nice in a stick-to-yer-ribs way. The cheese definitely made this. I just used a straight-up cheddar because my lady doesn't like smoked cheeses. I had some gorgeous baby purple potatoes from the farmers market, some red potatoes and a Hungarian hot wax pepper from my CSA, so I used all those.

Roasted quinoa with potatoes and cheese (from How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman)
(4-6 servings)


1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb small waxy potatoes, like fingerling, new red, or Peruvian purple, peeled if you like, and cut lengthwise into wedges
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
3/4 cup of quinoa
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup scallion, sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1-2 tbsp minced fresh chile (like jalapeno or Thai) or add hot red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste
6 oz cheese, preferably smoked like gouda, cheddar, or mozzarella, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup minced parsley for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400. Grease an 8 x 10 inch roasting pan with a tbsp or so of the olive oil.

2. Put the potato wedges and garlic into a large pot with water to cover, salt it, and turn the heat to high. When the water begins to boil, stir in the quinoa. Adjust the heat so that the water boils assertively and cook, stirring once or twice, for about 5 minutes.

3. Drain the quinoa, garlic, and potatoes in a strainer, but leave them fairly wet. Spread them into the prepared pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with the remaining olive oil, and gently toss with a spatula. Spread them out again. Roast, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Gently toss again, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes or so, until the potatoes are tender on the inside and golden on the outside.

4. Add the scallion, bell pepper, and chile and toss everything one last time. Taste and adjust the seasoning, keeping in mind that the cheese will add some saltiness. Spread the cheese over all and return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


4. Peach ice cream. I'd already made some peach frozen yogurt, but last week we had a great scoop of peach ice cream at Kaya, and had been thinking of it since. So, I made some yesterday with the recipe from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. Honestly, I was a little disappointed. I mean, it tasted good, the texture was nice, but with the sour cream in the recipe it just made it taste tangy like frozen yogurt. I wanted strictly sweet creaminess this time. I LOVE frozen yogurt, and the tanginess is the biggest selling point for me, but I wanted ice cream this time. In fact, I still do. I might have to do another batch this week because I made some delicious blackberry syrup that is crying out for ice cream.

6. Blackberry Soda. As I mentioned, I made some blackberry syrup yesterday. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but I got two pints of gorgeous blackberries from the farmers market, and had read some recipe for a fresh blackberry lemonade or cocktail or something a few weeks ago. So, I cooked them down with a little water, some sugar and a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and decided to make a blackberry soda. The syrup tastes fantastic on its own, but then I realized you can't just add that to perrier and expect a miracle. You have to add a lot more sugar to sweeten up mineral water. So I did. It was good. But, next time I'll just use a ginger ale or something. I'm having some friends over for drinks and a game of Foodie Fight on Wednesday. I'm going to make some kind of Blackberry Fizz.

And, after we have drinks and game fun, we're heading to the monthly Vegetarian Dinner at Kaya. The menu looks fab. I can't wait! (and will report back...).


ellen said...

I think I want to make that roasted quinoa for dinner tonight, that looks tasty. I only have feta and fresh mozzarella handy though, so I may need to foray for some smoked cheese. Yum.

AZ said...

That zucchini cheesecake looks amazing.