• freekeh with chickpeas and pomegranates

    Pomegranate season is drawing to a close. I’m trying to make the most of it, sprinkling arils over a bowl of hummus, substituting it for tomatoes in tabbouleh, adding handfuls to bowls of yogurt, and including it in simple grain dishes like this one with freekeh. This is a perfect make ahead sort of lunch that can be prepped the night before and enjoyed over the next few days. Freekeh, a whole grain made from green wheat, has an earthy and nutty taste with a chewy texture. It’s worth picking up if available in your neck of the woods. Freekeh can be found at specialty and Middle Eastern groceries. Here in Portland, I’ve spotted it at three stores with mysteriously similar names – World Foods (love this place!), Whole Foods, and World Market. If freekeh isn’t available in your area, farro, wheat berry, bulgur, and even brown rice would make good substitutes.

    freekeh with chickpeas and pomegranates

    Freekeh with Chickpeas and Pomegranates

    1 cup freekeh
    1 onion, chopped
    1 clove garlic, finely minced
    1 1/2 cups broccoli florets, roasted
    1 cup cooked chickpeas
    1/2 cup pomegranate arils
    1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used pistachios and walnuts)
    2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    salt & pepper, to taste

    Preheat oven to 400F. In a small baking dish, coat the broccoli florets lightly in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place it in the oven. Set an alarm for 15 minutes.

    Fill water in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat. Once boiling, add a couple pinches of salt to the water and add the freekeh. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook according to package directions. Set aside once it’s ready.

    Once the kitchen timer/alarm goes off, check on the broccoli. If the broccoli has caramelized around the edges, it’s ready. If not, pop it in the oven and set the timer for 5 minutes. Once the broccoli is ready, set it aside and let it cool.

    In a medium sized skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, chop an onion. Add the onion to the skillet, and stir frequently while chopping the garlic, prepping the pomegranate, rinsing the chickpeas, chopping the nuts and parsley. Add the garlic to the skillet stir until fragrant, or about 15 seconds. Transfer the onion and garlic mixture to the sauce pan containing the cooked freekeh. Add the broccoli florets, chickpeas, pomegranate arils, nuts, parsley, olive oil, salt, and pepper to the sauce pan as well. Mix thoroughly. Turn the heat on medium-low and heat until warm. Season to taste, and add more olive oil, salt, and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.

    Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side

  • skillet cookie for two

    cast iron skillet cookie for two - chocolate chunks and peanut butter chips

    In the hours between lunch and dinner, I’ll sometimes get an itch for something sweet to eat. The only way to get rid of that itch, of course, is to scratch it. When I stumbled upon a recipe for a cast iron chocolate chip cookie from Portland Monthly, I saved it and tucked it away for a particularly itchy day. The original recipe calls for a 10 inch skillet, but it’s scaled down here for a 6.5 inch skillet. The result yields plenty cookie for two people. Maybe a little too much, but who’s complaining? When scaling down baking recipes I usually stop when I get to one egg, but a whole egg would be too much here and this recipe includes just one tablespoon of egg. Crack your egg, whisk it, measure out a tablespoon and save the rest for breakfast the next day. We’ve made this twice and it’s safe to say it will become a regular in our treat rotation when an afternoon pick-me-up is needed. Cory first made it with just chocolate chips, then I mixed things up with some chopped dark chocolate and peanut butter chips. Our little skillet was a gift from my mom and our go-to for frying eggs and toasting nuts, and now? Cookies. Thanks, mama!

    Skillet Cookie For Two
    Adapted from Portland Monthly

    1/3 cup and 1 tbsp flour
    1/8 teaspoon baking soda
    3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
    2 tablespoons white sugar
    1 tablespoon egg, whisked (about 1/3 egg)
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (I used a mix of chopped chocolate and peanut butter chips)
    pinch of flaky sea salt, for garnishing

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk flour and baking soda, set aside.

    In another bowl, cream together room temperature butter and sugar until well combined. Add egg, salt, vanilla and mix until combined. Add the contents of the flour bowl to the wet ingredients until just incporated. Fold in the chocolate chips (and/or peanut butter chips).

    Flatten the dough into a lightly oiled 6.5 inch cast iron skillet. Bake for 13 minutes, or until the center is just set and comes out clean with a toothpick. If you want a crispy brown top, broil the cookie for about a minute. Check on it after 30 seconds, and let it broil for another 30 seconds if it hasn’t browned yet. Remove from oven and sprinkle some flaky salt over the cookie. Let cool for a few minutes, cut, and serve. Additionally, you can transfer it to a plate, then cut and serve.

    Makes 1 6.5-inch cookie

  • bread soup with corona beans

    bread soup with white beans

    Guys. I asked for beans for Christmas. I’ve been on a huge bean kick lately, but asking for beans for Christmas is a bit much, right? In my defense, I asked for some really nice beans that would become my… you know, special beans. Much to my delight on Beanmas morning, I unwrapped a large box that contained a variety of Rancho Gordo beans, along with a stray bag of Italian corona beans from a local market. I was instantly drawn to the corona beans because they are huge! See:

    Italian Corona Bean Size

    I had some leftover peasant bread from Alexandra Cooks, so I cracked open a bag of my special corona beans and put them to good use. Corona beans really fatten up when cooked and hold their shape well. I still have a cup or so of uncooked coronas left and plan to use the rest to make this recipe from 101 Cookbooks. If you can’t find corona beans in your area, any white bean is a good substitute for this soup. If big chunks of bread aren’t your style, add the bread before the beans, remove the bay leaf, and pulse with an immersion blender for a tomato/bread puree. After that, add the beans and kale. It’s almost dinner time, and I’m off to heat up the rest of this soup!

    Bread Soup with Corona Beans

    1 onion, diced
    3 garlic cloves, diced
    1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
    3 cups of broth, vegetable or chicken
    1 bay leaf
    1 tablespoon dried parsley
    salt & pepper, to taste
    2 cups of cooked Italian corona beans (or any white beans)
    2 cups kale, torn into bite sized pieces
    2 cups of toasted stale bread, cut into cubes

    For serving:
    parmigiano reggiano, to taste
    red pepper flakes, to taste
    olive oil

    Over medium heat, add oil to a large stockpot or dutch oven. Dice an onion, then toss them into the pot, stirring frequently.

    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, cut up the stale bread into bite-sized cubes. Add them to a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat each piece. Bake for 10 minutes. Go back to the cutting board and chop up the garlic. If the onions have softened, add the garlic to the pot. If not, wait a couple minutes. Stir garlic until fragrant and add the diced tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, parsley, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then let the soup simmer.

    Check on the bread cubes, turn them over and return them to the oven for another 10 minutes. Once the pieces are golden brown, remove them from the oven and set aside.

    After the soup has been simmering for 10-15 minutes, add the beans, kale, and bread. The bread cubes will absorb a lot of the liquid, so feel free to add more broth (or water) here if necessary. Let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes, season with more salt and pepper if necessary, before ladling into bowls. Serve with grated parmigiano reggiano, red pepper flakes, and olive oil.

    Serves 4

  • carrot and polenta cake with marsala

    carrot cake with polenta and marsala

    “Let’s go for a walk”, Cory suggested and before I knew it, we were slipping on our shoes and heading out the door. We didn’t have a destination in mind, but our feet took us in the direction of Powell’s Bookstore, which is where we inevitably ended up. Powell’s is a large independent bookstore, taking up an entire city block and then some. It’s a labyrinth of a place and I hardly know where anything is, except for the cookbooks. They must have at least 3 aisles of cookbooks. It’s completely overwhelming and easy to lose an hour there, conjuring up future meals in my head. Despite how often I cook and how much I think about food, I only own a few cookbooks. After two cross country moves in less than 18 months, packing up box after books got old fast, so we ended up donating much of our book collection. Now that we’re in Portland and intend to stay here for at least a couple years, adding a couple cookbooks to the shelf here and there won’t be too painful when we pack up our stuff again, right? That’s what I tell myself, at least. A copy of Domenica Marchetti’s The Glorious Vegetables of Italy went home with me that night.

    I’ve been happily cooking my way through the book, making crostinis, baking polenta, roasting squash, pureeing soups, and most recently, baking a cake. This is definitely my kind of cake. No frosting, no fondant, no layers, and it doesn’t have to look pretty. While it may seem plain looking at first glance, this cake has a lot going on. The polenta gives the cake a nice coarse texture, it’s accented with a bit of citrus and hints of nutmeg, and your favorite olive oil really gets the chance to shine through here. After just a few minutes in the oven, our little apartment was filled with the scents of orange and marsala. It felt a little like Thanksgiving or Christmas, the days we always have a pot of mulled wine simmering on the stove. It’s the kind of cake I can’t wait to make for just about everyone I know. I have plans to bake it for a get together next week and I’m wondering how it might hold up in the mail with all the other Christmas treats I plan on sending to family. The cake is perfect for dessert, and hey, you could probably get away with having it for breakfast too.

    carrot cake with polenta and marsala 2

    Carrot Polenta Cake with Marsala
    (adapted from The Glorious Vegetables of Italy)
    I made a few minor tweaks to the cake based on what I had on hand. The original recipe calls for the zest of an orange and lemon, but I just used the zests from two oranges since I was out of lemons. I also used a 9″ springform pan, instead of an 8″ x 8″ cake pan. The cake was ready after 32 minutes for me, instead of 35.

    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup dry marsala wine
    zest of 2 oranges
    1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
    1/2 cup polenta
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    dash of freshly grated nutmeg
    2 cups shredded carrots (about 3 large carrots)
    powdered sugar, for dusting

    Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush an 8″ x 8″ cake pan with olive oil. Shred the carrots.

    In a large mixing bowl, mix together olive oil, sugar, eggs, marsala, and orange zest until blended.

    In another bowl, whisk together flour, polenta, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Mix the flour mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid the clumps. Stir in the carrots until thoroughly mixed in. Transfer the batter into an oil-lined cake pan.

    Bake the cake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick runs clean. Depending on your oven, it may help to check the cake a few minutes early. Once the cake is done, transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and set on the rack until warm or room temperature. Dust the cake with powdered sugar, and serve.

    Serves 8-10

  • link lovin’ – october 2014

    october links

    Happy Halloween! Any plans to stuff your face with sweets and scare yourself to sleep tonight? If you’re on the lookout for spooky stories, I recommend Penpal.


    My Grandma The Poisoner

    The Kiss That Changed Video Games

    Cairo, Egypt from the perspective of a garbage man

    Confessions of a Former Internet Troll

    Kitchens Around the World

    Stunning Photos of San Francisco from the 1940s and 1950s


    I picked up some fennel the other day to make Fennel Pickle with Lemon and Ginger from Ham Pie Sandwiches. I’m thinking I’ll use the pickles for homemade banh mi.

    What am I going to do with all this chard and radicchio?, I wondered when I picked up my weekly CSA. The next day, Elise from Simply Recipes posted Farro with Swiss Chard and Radicchio, so I made a big batch of it. The rest went into salads and frittatas.

    Roasted Pumpkin and Carrot Lentil Dal from Delicious Istanbul.

    I’ve been baking up loaves of peasant bread from Alexandra Cooks about twice a month. After seeing beet caviar recipe from 101 Cookbooks, I think it’s time to bake up another loaf.

    Nutella Pocket Cookies (from Home Cooking in Montana) with a glass of Lemongrass Ginger Chai (from Noms for the Poor) would really hit the spot.

    I was so happy to find chestnuts for sale here, but I haven’t made anything with them yet. I think I’ll start with this Bulgur Pilaf With Chestnuts and Spicy Tangerine Brown Butter from The New York Times.