Thursday, August 28, 2014

I am generally a fairly devoted mother. I drive my kids to their various extra-curricular and social activities (and I don't usually complain). I get their school supplies and uniforms in order at least a couple of days before school starts. For the most part I make sure they are happy, safe and fairly well fed.

And I'm a pretty caring wife. I make sure there is something in the house for my husband to eat when he gets home close to midnight. I look out for his dry cleaning and other minutiae. I even occasionally buy him gifts.

But there is one exception. And it has to do with eggplant.

For some odd reason, few of my offspring enjoy eggplant. (Are these guys really my flesh and blood?) And neither does my husband. (Well, he's not my flesh and blood, but I did choose him. I don't think I knew about his Eggplant Issue when I did. I'm sure I didn't.)

But I do enjoy eggplant. I really, really do.

Would a truly caring mother find another vegetable to serve with dinner? One that her children and husband didn't completely despise? Perhaps.... Would she at least show some concern for her eggplant-hating offspring and spouse when bringing a dish to the table that she knows good and well they won't touch? Perhaps....

But - and I'm not proud of this - when I brought a plate of glistening Roasted Mini Eggplants to the dinner table, knowing full well I would be the only one consuming them, I didn't feel one bit of guilt. I graciously asked if anyone wanted any. I offered to share. But when they turned up their noses, I happily ate the entire plate of eggplants. Yes. Myself. And of that I'm not ashamed.

Roasted Mini Eggplants
Yeah, you really do need mini eggplants for this dish. Sorry, guys. Try your farmers market in the summer. Or Whole Foods.

10-15 mini eggplants
olive oil
2 cloves garlic
kosher salt
about 30 leaves of basil, preferably smallish

Preheat the oven to 400*. Wash and dry the eggplants. Peel the garlic cloves and slice them thin. You'll need 20-or-so slices.

Use a knife to make a slit from the tip of the eggplant all the way almost all the way up to the stem. You want to leave the stem comfortably intact, so don't get super-close to it.

Use a pastry brush or paper towel to coat a glass baking dish with oil. (You'll need a dish large enough to comfortably hold all of your eggplants.) Then pour a few tablespoons of oil into a cup or shallow dish. You'll use that to brush on the eggplants.

Working with one eggplant at a time, brush the insides and outsides generously with olive oil. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on the inside of the eggplant. Slip in a garlic clove or two, plus one or two basil leaves.  As you go, lay each eggplant in the oiled dish.

When you're done, sprinkle some salt and pepper over the eggplants.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the eggplants look warm through and are beginning to soften. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2014 by Rivki Locker


Sunday, August 24, 2014

OK, so you know you take food a wee bit too seriously when your eleven-year-old son begs you to take a family trip to Whole Foods before school starts because "this is probably the last chance I'll get for a long time."

Or when you are more likely to have fresh summer fruit in your home than you are to have clean and folded clothing for your kids to wear to camp. (True story.)

But the moment I was sure it had gone too far was when my five-year-old told me nonchalantly this weekend that her best friend's hair smells so good, "it smells like produce." I figured she was mixing up her words. "Do you really mean produce, sweetie? Or did you mean something else maybe, like shampoo or flowers?"

"No, Mommy. Like produce. Like fruits and vegetables. That's how good it smells."

Wow. I think I've taken things too far. My maybe-not-so-healthy obsession with fruits and vegetables might just be rubbing off on my loved ones. What do you think? OK? Not too cool? Would love to hear your thoughts....

In the meantime, here's a recipe from a summer-produce-obsessed gal. I saw these rainbow carrots at Whole Foods and COULD NOT resist. I have made the same recipe dozens of times with ordinary carrots, and truth be told, it tasted just the same. But isn't this just the prettiest thing?

Honey Garlic Roasted Carrots
Makes a nice large pan of carrots, enough for 4-6 as a side dish. You can also toss it with two cups of cooked quinoa to make it into a main dish. 

5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
black pepper, to taste
2 large bunches of carrots (rainbow carrots if you want to be fancy; but plain ones are JUST FINE)

Preheat the oven to 400*. 

Chop the garlic coarsely. Don't mince it too fine or it'll burn. 

In a large bowl, combine the garlic with the oil, honey, salt and pepper. Stir well with a fork. 

Next, peel your carrots and cut them into matchsticks. Yes, I know it's a nuisance and takes longer than just dumping them into the pan whole. Play some nice music or listen to your favorite podcast. And trust me on this. Your mouth will thank me for those happy shaped matchsticks. 

Put the carrot sticks into the bowl and toss them well to combine them with the honey-garlic-yumminess. 

Spray a large cookie sheet with baking spray (or brush on some oil). Pour on the carrots and spread them in a nice layer so they are not overlapping. 

Bake for 25-35 minutes - stirring occasionally - until the carrots are browning and developing a nice glaze. Eat anytime in the next few hours. (Or leave them on the counter and see how long they last.) 

Posted on Sunday, August 24, 2014 by Rivki Locker


Thursday, August 21, 2014

There are so many things I love about summer. The lazy afternoons that roll slowly into evening and then night. Hours in the pool with my kids. The bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Mostly from my CSA.

But I can't stand the heat of the kitchen. And so I usually avoid it. Not by starving my family (um, not usually). I just avoid turning on the oven. I cook mostly on the stovetop and grill, or serve raw foods. But I miss my roasted veggies and baked goods. And I especially miss homemade bread.

That's why I was kind of excited when the temperature dropped this week. I fired up the oven and got to work on some homemade bread.

This is my very favorite recipe. Although it does need 15-20 hours of rising, it's the simplest bread recipe I've ever made. There is no kneading, no rolling, and almost no shaping. As long as you're somewhat organized, and home at key intervals, this bread is an absolute breeze. Like 5-10 minutes of hands-on time. Seriously. And, did I mention it's fantastic? And that it tastes like artisan bread? Yeah, it does.

Oh, you'll need a big old oven-safe cast iron pot to make this recipe. Here's the one I use. It's AWESOME.

Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread, slightly adapted from the New York Times.
Makes one generous loaf.  Buy the book if you want to try variations.

2 ½ cups regular or high gluten flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon dry yeast
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
1⅝ cups water
Extra flour for dusting

Get started on this recipe the evening before you want to eat the bread. If you want to eat it on Wednesday evening, do this first step on Tuesday evening. Use a wooden spoon to mix the flours, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, and stir for a couple of minutes until the dough seems even. It'll be quite a bit stickier than other bread recipes you might be used to. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let it rest in a warm room for anywhere from 12-18 hours.

Move onto this next step when the dough is spotted with little bubbles. This can happen anywhere from 12-15 hours after you've put it up. Dust a counter or cutting board (for easier cleanup) with flour. Dump the dough onto it, giving a nudge with a spoon if needed. Sprinkle the dough with some more flour and fold it over on itself a couple of times. Cover the dough with saran wrap and leave it to rest for 15-30 minutes.

Spread out a clean cotton cloth on your counter. (I use an old - washed - pillowcase. The original recipe says NOT to use terry cloth.) Flour it generously and then quickly shape the dough into a ball, using a tiny bit of flour if the dough is sticking to your hands.  Put the dough seam side down on towel. Dust your dough-blob with more flour. Cover it with another cotton cloth and let it rise for anywhere from 1½ - 3 hours till it's doubled in size.

Half hour before you plan to bake it, preheat the oven to 450*. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (I use this one) in the oven to heat up. When you're ready, put on a thick pair of hot gloves and remove the pot from the oven. Carefully turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. Cover the pot with the oven-safe lid and bake the bread for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake it for another 20-30 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack before devouring.

Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2014 by Rivki Locker

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Well, this is awkward. I've abandoned this space for close to three years. Three crazy packed years with increased responsibilities at work and at home. But things have quieted down and I have that extra space back in my life. To breathe. To workout on a somewhat-regular-basis. To cook. And to blog.

So, I'm back. And I hope you will come visit and comment once again. It feels good to open up my kitchen to you and to share my recipes and photos. Thanks for stopping by!

I will introduce this recipe with a disclaimer. I am a self-proclaimed kale addict. Raw kale especially. And with kale season in full swing, there's no stopping me. I usually prepare it 101 Cookbooks style,  but lately I've been branching out. Sometimes even way out.

If you don't like kale, there's nothing for you here. Except maybe a few short words of support and encouragement: I won't hold this against you. Come back next week for something less green and less raw. In the meantime, could I convince you to give it a shot? Would it help if I admitted that I ate more than half this salad (yes, it is supposed to serve six) on my very own?

Kale Nectarine Salad 
Serves 6 normal people, but if you're having me over, count me in for at least 3 portions

Like most raw kale recipes, this one enjoys a few minutes of massaging and relaxation. Who doesn't, really? 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste
a couple of dashes each of cinnamon, ginger, allspice
1 small bunch kale
¼ cup walnuts
3 nectarines
¼ of a red onion
few tablespoons white vinegar
¼ cup parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, grated fresh
¼ cup bread crumbs, preferably homemade

In a large salad bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, salt, pepper, and spices. Use a fork to whisk well.

Use a chef's knife to cut the kale into ribbons. Put them in the bowl with the dressing. Use your hands (wear gloves if you like) to massage the dressing into the kale until it's well coated and you can feel the kale softening and wilting a bit. This will take 2-3 minutes. Don't skimp.

Let the kale rest. Preheat the oven to 350 and toast the walnuts for about 7 minutes, till fragrant. When they are cool, chop them coarsely and put that on top of the kale.

Meanwhile, slice your nectarines thin and put them on top of the kale as well.

Cut the onion into thin slices and put them in a bowl or cup with enough vinegar to cover them. (This takes the bite out of the onion.) Once they've been resting for about ten minutes, drain and discard the vinegar. Put the onions on top of the kale.

Last, put the cheese and bread crumbs into the bowl and give it a good toss. Eat fresh. If you have any left, it'll keep nicely for a day or two in the fridge.

Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 by Rivki Locker


Saturday, December 31, 2011

I hate goodbyes. I always have. This is more of a 'so long, see you soon' kind of a goodbye. If you've been following my saga here (and over at my other blog) you know that life's gotten busy lately. Very busy. And I just haven't been able to find a balance that allows time for work, family, cooking, and blogging. Unfortunately, the blogging's got to go. For now.

It's been sad for me not to be able to photograph and post. I love it and I was actually becoming half good at it. I have a sweet group of followers, and I love you guys. But I just can't manage it all now - between my super crazy work schedule, my husband's insane school/study schedule, and my always hungry and always wonderful family, there just isn't enough time in the day.

Here's a sendoff to 2011 and to my blogging. For now. I will be back. When things quiet down and I can make some time for this wonderful hobby. I don't know if it'll be six months or a year. Maybe more, maybe less. But I do hope we'll meet again when I return. In the meantime, thanks for visiting and commenting. Please keep visiting this place. Please keep writing. (Fellow food bloggers, I'll still be stopping by your blogs and doing the same.) Thanks for your support. Have a wonderful year.

# 1 Reader Favorite: Zucchini Banana Bread
#2 Reader Favorite: Roasted Peaches.

#3 Reader Favorite: Lemon Mint Zucchini Pancakes
#4 Reader Favorite: Raspberry Peach Tart

#5 Reader Favorite: Pan Fried Chickpeas
#6 Reader Favorite: Chocolate Muffins

#7 Reader Favorite: Baby Bok Choy Salad

#8 Reader Favorite: Signature Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted on Saturday, December 31, 2011 by Rivki Locker


Sunday, October 30, 2011

As you may have noticed, I sort of dropped from the face of the planet this month. I accepted a promotion at work which means I'm working super hard, super crazy hours. I have less time than ever before (who thought it was possible?) and am trying to figure out the right balance of work, family, and me-time. Blogging just hasn't been fitting into the picture, at least not yet. Thanks for your inquiries and emails. It feels good to know I'm missed.

If you happen to stop by here I'd love your input. For now, I'll definitely be posting less often. How do you feel about posts with musings and recipes only - no photos? I know that one of the things I enjoy most about food blogs is the photography. What about you? Would you be interested in posts without photos or would I lose your attention? 

Thanks again for all your support. I hope to be back soon.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (adapted from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe)
This recipe makes one loaf. I usually use the large 28 oz. jar of pumpkin and double the quantities to make two loaves. They freeze beautifully, and if you slice the cake and individually wrap the slices before freezing, you've got a quick and easy snack (or breakfast) to go. 

1 small can (15 oz.) 100% pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour

Preheat the oven to 350*. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray.

Combine the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer. Use the paddle attachment to stir them thoroughly till smooth.

Add the salt, baking powder and sugar, and mix on low speed for a minute or so till the dry ingredients are combined.

Add the chocolate chips and flours and mix on low just till combined. The mixture will be quite thick.

Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and bake for an hour or so (a little less if you like your cake less dry). Once the cake is cool enough to handle, remove it from the pan and cool thoroughly on wire racks before serving or freezing.

Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 by Rivki Locker


Monday, September 26, 2011

I feel I owe you an apology. I sort of dropped from the face of the earth for a couple of weeks without so much as a word of explanation.

Much as I know you've got other things on your mind, other blogs to visit, other ways to fill your evening hours, it seems rude to leave you hanging.

Life's been even crazier than ever. Just when I thought it could get no busier, it did. In a good way. I accepted a promotion at work which means I'm working harder than ever. More hours at the office. Less hours at home. More stress. Less time to cook. And blog.

If things are a little quiet around here, please understand. I'm figuring out a new balance between work, home, and personal time. I hope things will settle soon. Thanks for your patience till they do.

On to my recipe of the week. This month, I was SO pleased to get Kitchen Belleicious as my Secret Recipe Club pick. I have been following Jessica's lovely blog for quite some time and had dozens of recipes bookmarked already. It wasn't easy to settle on one, but this recipe was a natural choice. It's super easy, and my kids are WILD over anything with chickpeas.

Pan Fried Chickpeas, adapted from Kitchen Belleicious 
Serves 4 as a side dish or snack

The original recipe calls for Cajun Seasoning, which I didn't have, but since we don't like things really spicy anyway, I left it out, and it was perfect. Let me know if you try it with. Here's my variation. 

1 can of chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for finishing
3 tablespoons olive oil

Drain the chickpeas and spread them out on a dishtowel to dry for about 1/2 hour. In a large plastic bag, combine the spices, salt and flour. Mix well. Throw the chickpeas in the bag and mix them around so they are well coated.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and then shallow fry the beans in two batches. Shake the beans around every couple of minutes to be sure they fry evenly, and remove them with a slotted spoon when they look done (mine took a bit less than 5 minutes). Let them drain on paper towels for a few minutes.

Season with extra kosher salt and ENJOY! Jessica's recipe says that these will save in a ziploc bag or container for up to 1 week, although I have no evidence of that. They were devoured in less than five minutes.

Posted on Monday, September 26, 2011 by Rivki Locker


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I know it. I posted a Peach Tart recipe barely a week ago. It's audacious to make - and blog about - two such decadent foods, on a healthy eating site to top it off, in such a short time span.

What's even more shocking is that I made this tart only a few days after said Peach Tart. And, as long as we're baring our souls here, I have every intent of making another variation this weekend.

There, I've said it. Now won't that make the calories not count or something?

Raspberry Peach Tart, adapted from Food 52
The original recipe calls for whole milk and butter, but I wanted a dairy-free version so I used almond milk and margarine instead. Feel free to use the real-deal if you prefer.

1 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup mild olive oil
2 tablespoons almond milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or rum
2 tablespoons cold margarine or butter
1 granny smith apple, peeled and coarsely grated
1 pint raspberries, cleaned and dried well
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
2 small ripe peaches, pitted and thickly sliced (about 1/2-inch wide)
Preheat the oven to 425*. Line the bottom shelf with a piece of foil or a baking sheet; this will protect the oven from dripping juice while the tart is baking.

Now, make the dough. In a mixing bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oils, milk and almond extract or rum. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork. Be sure not to overwork it.

Transfer the dough to a tart pan (I used a 12-inch but a 10- or 11-inch would have been better). Press down on the dough with your fingers till it covers the bottom of the pan.

Next, make the crumb topping. In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the margarine. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut the margarine into the dry ingredients until the mix is crumbly.

Now, assemble your tart. Spread the grated apple evenly over the crust. 

Toss the raspberries with the cornstarch and make a lovely border out of the starched berries around the edge of the tart. You'll probably make two rows of raspberries. 

In the center of the tart, inside the berry border, arrange the peaches in a concentric circle. Sprinkle all of the crumb topping over top. 

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until shiny, thick bubbles are erupting from the fruit and the crust is beginning to brown. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature. (It's also really nice as leftovers, eaten right from the fridge. Even right out of the pan. Trust me.)

Linking this up to This Chick Cooks and Weekend Bloggy Reading

Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 by Rivki Locker


Thursday, September 8, 2011

I am under strict orders. Here is what I have been instructed to say. This salad is lovely. It is pretty and colorful. It looks like summer itself.

It is not, however, Kid Friendly. In fact, it is decidedly Kid Unfriendly. Children, for example, who do not like pepper will NOT like this dish. Neither will children who do not like bulgur. Or children who don't like olive oil, lime juice, or corn (is there really anyone who doesn't like corn?).

But I ask you. Should I refrain from posting this lovely recipe just because a certain almost-twelve-year-old Miss Particular doesn't happen to like any of the ingredients therein?

Wouldn't that be a shame?

So my instructions to you are as follows. Make this recipe. Soon. Before the local corn is gone. Savor it. Enjoy it. But don't serve it to your particular children. They might not be so nice about it.

Corn Tabouleh
Makes 4-6 generous servings

1/2 cup bulgur wheat
4 ears of corn, husks removed, cooked and cooled
2 peppers (I used one green and one red)
3 scallions
a handful of basil, parsley or cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil

Cook the bulgur according to the package instructions. Or, if you don't have the package, do what I did: bring some water to a boil and pour it over the bulgur so it covers it and then some. Cover and let soak for about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool.

Cut the corn off the cobs. Chop the peppers, dice the scallions, and mince the herbs. Combine the vegetables in a large bowl, and then add the salt, lime juice, and oil.

Add the cooled bulgur and then refrigerate for at least an hour (overnight is fine too) to let the flavors meld.

Serve within a day or two.

Posted on Thursday, September 08, 2011 by Rivki Locker