Friday, March 19, 2010

Flourless Carrot Cake (Gajar Ka Halwa)

I've had this flourless, no bake carrot cake before, in Nepalese restaurants, but never knew how to make it. Luckily, Donna (of Dine with Donna) asked a restaurant owner for the recipe. It turns out the cake is really easy to make. Basically, shredded carrots are cooked in a dry pan over medium heat until all the moisture evaporates -- then, milk, butter, and sugar are added in turn, and cooked until the liquid reduces -- and finally, cinnamon, coconut powder, and ground cardamom are stirred into the carrot mixture.

While the resulting cake is delicious, the recipe is worth making for the smell of freshly ground cardamom, alone.

Dine with Donna featured the cake more than a month ago, but it took me a while to make it because I didn't have the coconut powder called for in the recipe. I finally just decided to use coconut flour, which worked just fine (and maybe is the same thing?). You can find coconut flour at health food stores.

Recipe here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Orzo and Vegetable Salad

The warm temperatures and sunny skies last week started me thinking about lighter spring fare. After months of winter vegetables, an orzo and vegetable salad (from Jeanne Lemlin's Quick Vegetarian Pleasures cookbook) seemed like a great way to welcome spring.

Of course, by the time I got around to making the salad, the temperature had plummeted more than 20 degrees, the sunny sky had been replaced with clouds, and it was snowing. Also, I somehow lost an hour?

While the weather (and time) may have let me down, I don't believe this salad ever will: orzo and tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, celery, parsley, feta, and (of course) kalamata olives, in a light, creamy dressing. I threw in a little chopped spinach, this time, too... Here's to the longer days, sunnier skies, and warm-weather food to come.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pizza With Broccoli, Feta, And Garlic

Garlicky-feta goodness. Plus olives.

1 batch pizza dough (I used Mark Bittman's recipe with a little spelt flour mixed in, but plan to try this one in the future)
flour as needed
1 head broccoli, washed, stems removed, and finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

Preheat the oven to 500F.

Lightly brush a baking sheet with olive oil.

Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface, and transfer to the baking sheet. Brush the dough with olive oil.

In a large bowl, combine chopped broccoli, red pepper flakes, garlic, and two teaspoons olive oil, and toss to combine.

Carefully pour the broccoli mixture onto the pizza. Top with the feta crumbles and chopped kalamata olives.

Bake at 500F for 6-12 minutes, monitoring carefully after the 6 minute mark.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Stuffed Cabbage (Not Exactly Like Grandma Made Them)

I suppose we all have our contradictions. I generally don't miss meat at all -- but sometimes I crave my Grandma's stuffed cabbage. And, so, while I usually am not interested in re-creating traditional dishes without the meat, I have tried different meatless versions of stuffed cabbage over the years -- ranging from wonderful version at a Ukrainian restaurant in New York City to a best-forgotten attempt using mock meat "crumbles."

I recently noticed a recipe for "Cabbage Parcels" in the Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen cookbook. The parcels -- stuffed with a pureed blend of barley, pecans, cashews, mushrooms, onions, and cheddar cheese -- sounded interesting, even if a bit different from the stuffed cabbage that I grew up with. And so, I decided to give them a try.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, up until it came to stuffing the cabbage leaves. The recipe said to bind the cabbage parcels with kitchen string to hold them together. I skipped this part, and instead just stuffed the cabbage the way I remember seeing it done as a girl -- dab of stuffing in the center of a steamed cabbage leaf, fold the top and then the bottom of the leaf up over the middle, and then carefully tuck the two sides underneath. The stuffed leaves then went into a large skillet of tomato sauce to simmer for about 30 minutes.

I was really pleased with the outcome -- the cabbage rolls weren't exactly like Grandma made them, but were closer than I expected, and also just plain tasty. Folks who are looking for a good homemade veg burger should check out the filling recipe ("Brown Rice-Mushroom 'Burgers,'" from the same cookbook) -- the nut/grain/mushroom blend has a good flavor and even looks surprisingly meat-like (if that's what you're into).