Monday, September 28, 2009

Roasted sungolds and apple kugel

Note: Oh man, I am a slacker. I meant to post this weeks ago. Apologies. Please enjoy now!

From the week of September 28th:

Plenty of cooking adventures to report for the past week. But first! Saturday goodies from the market: a pint of sungolds, one of the last of the season; two gala apples (good for lunches) and four golden delicious apples (for the kugel); broccoli; a yellow bell pepper; and my first winter squash of the season, a hardy small butternut. Did you know that the less green lines at the top of the squash, the sweeter it'll be? I think I learned that from the Brinkleys, at the Carrboro Farmer's Market.

I love roasting tomatoes - it brings out their flavor without having to do much to them - and at the end of tomato season, it's a good way to make sure that slightly sub-par tomatoes still taste great. I used a Smitten Kitchen recipe to roast these sungolds. Usually I roast tomatoes at a slightly higher temp for a much shorter period of time, but I wanted to see what would happen with her truly slow roast method.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Cherry, grape or small Roma tomatoes
Whole gloves of garlic, unpeeled
Olive oil
Herbs such as thyme or rosemary (optional)

Preheat oven to 225°F. Halve each cherry or grape tomato crosswise, or Roma tomato lengthwise and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet along with the cloves of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, just enough to make the tomatoes glisten. Sprinkle herbs on, if you are using them, and salt and pepper, though go easily on these because the finished product will be so flavorful you’ll need very little to help it along.

Bake the tomatoes in the oven for about three hours. You want the tomatoes to be shriveled and dry, but with a little juice left inside–this could take more or less time depending on the size of your tomatoes.

I didn't realize we had no garlic until I'd already started cutting tomatoes, so I just decided to go with it. I sprinkled some dried thyme on top. They came out great! I'll definitely pop them onto sandwiches, in with pasta, and on top of salads over the next week or two.

Now that we're mostly finished setting up the new apartment, Katey and Anna and I hosted a small brunch potluck this weekend to celebrate. I get daily emails from with recipes, and one of this week's was for a Caramelized Apple Kugel. I love my grandma's kugels - thick, creamy, cheesy, dessert that you can pretend is a side dish or breakfast - and figured this would be worth a try.

Vegetarian Times Noodle Kugel with Caramelized Apples and Raisins

  • 6 oz. wide egg noodles
  • 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup raisins (I left these out)
  • 4 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and cored (1 1/2 lb.)
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 9- x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook egg noodles in large pot of boiling salted water 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain.

Whisk together cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, egg whites, cinnamon, and salt in bowl. Fold in egg noodles and raisins.

Quarter each apple. Slice each quarter into thirds. Set aside.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples, sprinkle with sugar, and cook 4 minutes without stirring. Gently flip apples and cook 4 minutes more, or until softened and golden on both sides, turning once or twice. Carefully transfer apples to noodle mixture.

Spoon noodle mixture into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 40 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Cool 15 minutes before slicing. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Sadly, this recipe came out quite a bit dryer and looser than I was hoping. My memories of kugel involve thick, creamy squares of moist goodness. This was more falling apart noodlieness with fruit and spices mixed in. Next time I'll find a recipe heavier on the cheese. What could be wrong with that plan?

I promise more regular updates from now on! In addition, my apartment is hosting quite a few food-related events this weekend, and surely there will be more to come. I'll do my best to keep you fully posted.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Coconut Barley Pilaf with Corn, Chicken, and Cashews

Apologies, dear readers, for my absence. Consider this my triumphant return.

And we begin again with one of this week's featured recipes from the New York Times, prefaced by an adorable and appealing article about this homemade takeout-style dish to cuddle up with on the couch. Living in New York, resisting takeout can be difficult, as walking home from the subway requires peeking through the windows of all the local restaurants, watching folks consume delicious-looking food with smells wafting towards the street. But it's expensive, for one, and often feels so extravagant when I could just go home and make something simple and good. This dish is a great compromise.

Now before you get all hyped up that I'm leaving my mostly vegetarian roots, fear not! I've substituted the chicken in this recipe for one of the single best ingredients of all time: Delight Soy Nuggets. Imported from Taiwan directly to North Carolina, they're impossible to get in New York. I was lucky enough to have mine specially delivered to me. They're so good, so juicy, so much like real meat, and so incredibly addictive, that they've come to be known in my circle as "soy crack." Once you start, you'll be hooked for life. In a good way.

Coconut Barley Pilaf with Corn, Chicken, and Cashews

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 10 ounces), rinsed and patted dry
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup salted roasted cashews, roughly chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced small (about 1 cup)
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
2 cups pearled barley
1 can (15-ounce) coconut milk
2 ears corn, kernels sliced off the cob (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, cilantro or parsley (I used cilantro)

Cut chicken into 1-inch chunks; season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden and almost cooked through, about 4 minutes. Stir in cashews and cook 1 minute more. Transfer mixture to a plate.

Add remaining tablespoon oil to pot. Stir in onions and jalapeño and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until onions are slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in barley and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute more.

Add enough water to coconut milk to yield 2 cups liquid and add to pot. Bring liquid to a simmer, then cook, covered, over low heat until the barley is almost tender, about 40 minutes.

Stir in corn. If mixture looks dry, stir in 1 1/4 cups more water; cover and cook until barley and corn are tender, 10 to 15 minutes more. Return chicken mixture to pot and stir well. Fold in herbs and more salt to taste.

This dish is really, really good. The grain is hearty, the flavors are really full, the coconut milk and corn combo makes it a touch sweet. It reheats really well and doesn't take too long or much effort. The soy crack, of course, is fab. Definitely will be making this one again.