Monday, November 26, 2007

Potato Bread and Rolls

Ah potato bread! Here is another lost recipe from the old days that I have been fortunate to rediscover via the wonders of the food-blogging community. These pretty little rolls are made form the recipe for Tender Potato Bread, this month’s challenge from the Daring Bakers, hosted by Tanna at My Kitchen in Half Cups.

This is the first bread I have kneaded by hand in a while. I will just remark that I have not been making no-knead bread for months now. I think I just like kneaded bread better. You have so many more choices.

Tender Potato Bread
(from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid; who also wrote Hot Sour Salty Sweet)
I made two dozen rolls and two small loaves.


12 ounces potatoes (I used white rose potatoes)
4 cups(950 ml) water, reserve cooking water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast (or active dry yeast)
6 ½ cups to 8 ½ cups (1 kg to 1350g) unbleached all-purpose flour (I used the maximum amount)
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
1 cup (130g) whole wheat flour
Additional olive oil or coconut oil
Coarse sea salt

Form the Dough

Put the potatoes and 4 cups water in a sauce pan and bring to boil. Add one teaspoon salt and cook, half covered, until the potatoes are very tender.

Drain the potatoes, reserving the water, and mash well. Measure out three cups (750ml) of the reserved potato water. Add extra water if needed to make 3 cups. Place the water and mashed potatoes in the bowl you plan to mix the bread dough in. Let cool to lukewarm (70-80°F/21 - 29°C) – stir well before testing the temperature – it should feel barely warm to your hand. Add yeast to 2 cups all-purpose flour and whisk. Add yeast and flour to the cooled mashed potatoes & water and mix well. Allow to rest/sit 5 minutes.

This is called the autolyse step, and it is intended to make the dough easier to knead.

Sprinkle in the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and the softened butter; mix well. Add the 1 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly.

Add two cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour and stir until all the flour has been incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but as it takes up more flour from the kneading surface, it will become easier to handle; use a dough scraper to keep your surface clean. The kneaded dough will still be very soft. Place the dough in a large clean bowl or your rising container of choice, cover with plastic wrap or lid, and let rise about two hours or until doubled in volume.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently several minutes. It will be moist and a little sticky.

Form the Bread
Heat the oven to 400. Butter two eight-inch loaf pans, one eight-inch springform pan, and one six-inch heart-shaped pan, or pans of the shape and size of your choosing. Divide the dough into four sections, one larger than the other three. Form two of the three smaller dough sections into loaves and place them in the buttered loaf pans. Divide each of the two remaining sections into twelve balls. I had one dozen one-ounce rolls and one dozen two-ounce rolls. Roll each dough ball so that it has a smooth taut surface. Arrange the rolls in the prepared baking pans and allow to proof for forty minutes. Brush the loaves and rolls with additional melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired. Bake for ten minutes and lower oven temperature top 375 and bake twenty-five minutes more. At this point, the smaller rolls should be deep golden and ready to remove. Bake another fifteen minutes and remove the larger rolls, and then remove the loaves about ten minutes later. This kind of bread slices up beautifully and is especially suited to grilled cheese sandwiches.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Still Too Hot

Just a few more minutes!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Tough Nut אַ האַרטע נוס

Cracking black walnuts: Image from John Sankey

אױ כאָרע! איך האָב שױן צוגעזאָגט צװײ לײענער אַז איכל מאַכן אַ פּײַ פֿון הײמישע שװאַרצע װעלטשענע ניס, אָבער דאָס איז געװען אײדער איך האָב פּראָבירט זײ עפֿענען. נעמען אַראָפּ די װײכע דרױסנדיקע שאָלעכץ איז שױן אײן מאָל אַ מלכה, אָבער די האַרטע נוסשאָל האָב איך נישט געקאָנט אַפֿילו אײַנקאַרבן נאָך צװאַנציק קלעפּ מיטן שװערסטן האַמער אין שטוב. ערשט נאָך דעם האָב אױסגעגאָגלט אַ ביסל אינפֿאָרמאַציע װעגן שװאַרצע װעלטשענע ניס. זײ זענען טאַקע האַרט, דאַכט זיך מיר. דאָ האָב איך געלײענט אַז די שאָלעכץ פֿון שװאַרצע װעלטשענע ניס זענען אַזױ האַרט, אַז מע נוצט זײ װי אינדוסטריעלע זאַמד אױסצושיסן מעטאַל און אַנדערע זאַכן. די ניס זענען באמת האַרטער װי אַ סך זאַכן װאָס זענען אױף ייִדיש משלים פֿון האַרטקײט.

Bless my soul! I had already promised two readers that I was planning to make walnut pies from some home-grown black walnuts, but that was before I tried breaking them. Removing the sticky, smelly husks is difficult enough, but I could make no impression on the inner shells, even with twenty blows from my heaviest hammer. Regular nutcrackers are right out. Perhaps I should have read this first.

Black walnut shells are one of the toughest organic substances known, so hard, in fact, that they are industrially ground and used in place of sand to air blast metal, marble, glass and other substances.

They are in fact much harder than many of the substances we use in Yiddish as examples of hardness.

האַרט מױער אײַזן
Hard wall iron

האַרט װי אײַזן
Hard as iron

װי שטאָל
As steel

װי שטײן
As stone

װי מירמלשטײן
As marble

װי קיזלשטײן
As silica

װי בײן
As bone

װי אַ ציגל
As a brick

װי אַ פּאָדעשװע
As a sole (of a shoe)

װי יוכט
As cowhide

װײך װי אַ לײמענער דישעל
Soft as a clay diszel (driving thill)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Evolutionary Organics Farm

Kira and her squash

I will be missing Evolutionary Organics Farm at Union Square over the winter. I am especially fond of the informative and unusually frank labels the farmer makes for each vegetable.How often do folks come out and tell you they can't figure a particular green out?
And then there's this:

I just love that.
So I know I can believe her about this Marina di Chioggia, the most perfect squash in the universe:
Well, I have lots of squash, but I was not going to leave the most perfect squash in the universe all alone. It's Thanksgiving. I'll think of something to do with it. OK, I got one of these too. Sue me!

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Herbed Chestnut Dressing or Stuffing

This is the first time I have cooked with dried chestnuts. This is also, no lie, the first time I have ever cooked with any kind of chestnuts at all, so I have never yet done the whole chestnut-peeling operation, a trial I imagine I will have to face sooner or later. I first learned about dried chestnuts from Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini. She used them to make this carrot soup and these interesting little galettes. Chestnuts have been on my to try list for a while, and the dried version seemed like the easiest kind to use, so I was especially glad to find organic dried chestnuts at my local grocer last week. Even right out of the bag these guys have a deep woody, nutty aroma, which becomes mellower and even more wonderful once they are cooked.

Yippee! I finally cooked chestnuts! will certainly be using them again.

Herbed Chestnut Dressing or Stuffing

Olive oil

1 onion, diced

7 ounces shallots (or another onion), diced

1 pound carrots, sliced

8 ounces dried chestnuts (1 ½ cups), or substitute 8 ounces raw chestnuts, or one pound cooked chestnuts

3 fat pinches dried thyme

8 sage leaves (1 teaspoon dried sage)


8 cups or so torn or cubed bread (I used half a challah and two whole grain rolls)

1 pound (2 packages) wild rice tempeh, or other tempeh.

½ cup balsamic vinegar

yet another onion, finely diced

6 eggs

salt, pepper, and paprika

dry sherry

Heat oil in a large kettle and add the shallots and onions. Cook and stir a few minutes and add the carrots, chestnuts and herbs. Continue cooking and stirring until the onions and shallots are quite soft, about fifteen minutes, and pour in water to cover and add about one and a half teaspoons salt. Allow to cook until the chestnuts are soft, adding more water as needed, about forty-five minutes.

Toast the bread-bits in the oven until quite crisp and brown.

Heat some more oil in a large iron skillet. Crumble the tempeh into the skillet and cook over high heat until deep golden on all sides. Pour on the balsamic vinegar. Sizzle sizzle sizzle.

Beat the eggs and season with salt, pepper, and paprika. When they are cool enough to handle, combine the toasted bread, braised tempeh, and stewed chestnuts and carrots in a large bowl. Add the eggs, sprinkle on a bit of dry sherry and mix, mix, toss, toss.

You can use this dressing to stuff a pumpkin like this beautiful musquee de Provence, or just bake at 350 it in an oiled ovenproof dish, covered, for about 45 minutes.

See other herbal dreams fulfilled in Vanessa's Weekend Herb Blogging roundup at What Geeks Eat.

The Yiddish words for chestnut are קעסט and קאַשטאַן (kashtan and kest) The elegant and graceful chestnut tree is the symbol of the city of Kiev.
Food and Drink, Recipes, Cooking, Food, Vegetarian, vegetables, antioxidant-rich foods, Weekend Herb Blogging, whb,

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

tatsoi, 塌菜, בעטל קרױט

דאָס געשמאַקע געװיקס הײסט „טאַצױ.“ איך האָב פֿריער געמײנט אַז דער נאָמען דאַרף זײַן פֿונעם כינעזישן „דאַ4 צײַ4“ 大菜אָדער „גרױס געװיקס“. דער נאָמען װאָלט זײער גוט געפּאַסט, אַז עץ קאָנט אַלײן גוט זען; דער טאַצױ איז אַזױ גרױס װי אַ ראָד פֿון מײַן װעלאָסיפּעד. דער נאָמען אױף כינעזיש אָבער איז „טאַ4 צײַ4“ 塌菜, אָדער „בעט געװיקס“. דער נאָמען פּאַסט אַפֿילו בעסער, װײַל אַ בינטל טאַצױ זעט אױס װי זײער אַ באַקװעמ בעטל. אױף ייִדיש הײסט טאַצױ בעטל קרױט. איך האָב עס נאָר װאָס אױסגעטראַכט.

For years I imagined that tatsoi took its name from the Chinese words 大菜 (dàcài) meaning “large vegetable.” That would have been very appropriate for this gorgeous bunch, which is equal in circumference to my bicycle wheel, but it turns out that in fact the Chinese name for this vegetable is 塌菜 (tàcài), meaning couch vegetable, or bed vegetable, which makes even better sense, since the bunches do look very comfy. The Yiddish word for tatsoi (which I just made up) is בעטל קרױט (betl kroyt).

Sweetnicks will provide more information on cozy and comforting vegetables.

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באַלסאַמישער קירבעס

אין דער צײַט פֿון יאָר, קאָך איך אאָפּ זײער אַ סך קירבעס און דיניעס. דאָס יאָר איז געװען, ברוך־השם, אַז אַן אױסערגעבװײנטלעכס פֿאַר קירבעס, סײַ אין מאָס, סײַ אין קװאַליטעט, אַז איך האָב געדאַרפֿט אױסטראַכטן נײַע רעצעפּטן װאָס זענען זײ זוכה. אַז עץ האָט אין שטוב שױן־געבאַקענעם קירבעס איז דער רעצעפּט זײער גרינג און װעונדערלעך באַטעמט.

באַלסאַמישער קירבעס

1 פֿונט געבאַקאענער קירבעס

5 צײנדלעך קנאָבל

מאַסלינע בױמל

¼ טעפּל באַלסאַמישער עסיק אָדער רױטער װײַן


צעשנײַדט'ץ דעם קירבעס אױף שטיקער און שײלט'ץ אים אָפּ. שײלט'ץ אָפּ די צײנדלעך קנאָבל, און צעשנײַדט'ץ זײ אױף דינע רעפֿטלעך. היצט'ץ אָן בױמל אין אַ פֿענדל און זשאַרעט'ץ אָפּ די רעפֿטלעך קנאָבל אױף אַ נידעריקן פֿײַער זײ זאָלן זיך קאַראַמעליזרן. גיט'ץ צו דעם קירבעס און זשאַרעט אים גוט אָפּ די עקלעך זאָלן זיך קאַראַמעליזירן. װען דאָס פֿענדל איז גוט הײס, גיסט'ץ אַרײַן דעם באַלסאַמישן עסיק אָדער װײַן און נעם אים אַראָפּ פֿון פֿײַער. גיט'ץ צו זאַלץ לױטן טעם.



pumpkin (or squash)

gourd (or pumpkin)

באַלסאַמישער עסיק
Balsamic vinegar

To caramelize

זיך קאַראַמעליזירן
To caramelize (itself)

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bamboo Honey Pecan Pie

When I made pecan pie for Thanksgiving last year, I had filling leftover to make nine little tartlets (three of which are mysteriously absent from the group photo). You just can’t guess how crazy people go over little pies. Folks like pie plenty to begin with, but there is something about those cute little tartlets. I mean people just fall onto them, levitate out of their seats and float across the room to grab them. Tiny little pies could take over the world. Now there’s a book out that would suggest that the reason for this is that when we eat little things, we can delude ourselves that we are eating less, and that individual tarts leave no telltale evidence, like the space left by a missing wedge, to rebuke us. This might be partly true, but I think we eat little pies because we just really like little pies. I am almost thinking of just skipping the regular pies altogether and making lots of lots of tiny little pies, but of course, making a few little tartlets out of leftover dough and filling is jolly good fun. Making a whole pie’s worth would be a chore, and possibly a real pain, unless you could find your way into the zen of the whole thing.

While we ponder the merits of various pie-dimensions, allow me to assure you that you can make superb pecan pie without corn syrup. Cane syrup is the supposed ideal, but I have had great results with honey, especially dark, winey bamboo honey. Do give it a try. Here’s where I need to beg your indulgence. You need to use pecan halves. Lots of folks will tell you that it is easier to prepare and serve the pie if you chop the pecans, but so much of the pleasure of the pecan pie experience is from those pecan halves, and they are really no trouble.

Bamboo Honey Pecan Pie

This recipe makes one nine-inch pie plus two little tartlets, or one eight-inch tart plus nine little tartlets

½ of a batch of butter and coconut oil piecrust (for a dairy-free event, use all coconut oil)

3 eggs

1 cup bamboo honey, or other honey

½ cup raw sugar, or other sugar

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter

1 ¼ cup pecans

heat the oven to 425. Roll out the piecrust dough and line the pie and tartlet pans. Line the crusts with the pecan halves curved side up and chill the pastry while you prepare the filling. Melt the butter. Beat together the eggs, honey, sugar, and butter. Pour the mixture into the pie and tart shells, trying to the extent possible not to disturb the pattern in which the pecans are arranged. Bake the pies for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350. After another five minutes, remove the tartlets. Bake the pie or larger tart another ten or fifteen minutes.

Other seasonal pies you will want to try are:

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (One of the best things I’ve ever made)

Better Pumpkin Pie

Grape Pie (and apple slump)

Don't postpone pie!

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Toasted Squash or Pumpkin Seeds

Delicata squash seeds have such thin tender shells, that when you roast them they become frangible as parchment, and you can easily eat them whole. Other squashes have tougher hulls, and might require a two-part shell-and-eat procedure. All squash seeds are good enough to be worth keeping and roasting, and some are outstanding. The musquee de Provence pumpkin I cooked yesterday is an unusually vividly flavored pumpkin with some unusually vividly flavored seeds. I have been nibbling at them all day.

Here’s where a lot of folks go wrong in toasting pumpkins. You have to cook them first. This salts them and softens them up, and you get some wonderful pumpkin seed broth to add to your current soup.

Toasted Squash or Pumpkin Seeds

Remove seeds from the seed cavity and try to pull off some of the fibers clinging to them. You will not be able to get them all, but that is fine. Boil the seeds in a sauce pan in heavily salted water for twenty minutes for smallish seeds, or about 30-40 minutes for larger, tougher seeds. Drain the seeds and reserve the seed-stock for soup. You will now be able to remove much more of the squash fibers around the seeds. Heat the oven to 350. Spread the seeds on a parchment-lined sheet pan and toast them for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring them once or twice so that they brown evenly. When they are done, the last bit of squash fiber will break right off.

In Yiddish seeds frequently have idiomatic names of their own. Sunflowers are זונרױזן (zunroyzn), and sunflower seeds areסעמישקעס (semishkes); hemp is קאָנאָפּליע (konoplye), and hemp seeds are קאָנאָפּליעס (konoplyes). Poppy seeds מאָן (mon), and caraway seeds קימל (kiml) also have idionyms in Yiddish. I would have imagined there would be a special word for pumpkin seeds, but so far, the only one I have encountered is קירבעס קערעלעך (kirbes kerelekh), which just means squash seeds.

(11/15 ETA:) Mayer Kirshenblatt recalls that pumpkin seeds were a popular snack in Apt between the wars (Kirshenblatt, Mayer, and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, They Called Me Meyer July, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2007, p140). According to Kirshenblatt, they are called באניע קערן (banye kern).

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געבראָטענע ברוקװעס מיט קנאָבל

געבראָטענע ברוקװעס מיט קנאָבל

2 בינטלעך (2 פֿונט) ברוקװעס

10 צײנדלעך קנאָבל

מאַסלינע בױמל


װאַרעמט'ץ אָן דעם אױװן אױף 375. שײלט'ץ אָפּ די צײנדלעך קנאָבל, און צעשנײַדט'ץ זײ אױף דינע רעפֿטלעך. שנײַדט'ץ אָפּ פֿון די ברוקװעס די עקלעך און קעפּלעך, אָבער שײלט'ץ זײ ניט אָפּ. צעשנײַדט'ץ זײ אױף האַלבע־לבֿנות. זידט'ץ אײַן די ברוקװעס מיט די קנאָבל אין געזאָלצן װאַסער אַ 20-30 מינוט. דאָס װאַסער קאָנט עץ נוצן אין אַ זופּ. לײג די ברוקװעס און קנאָבל אין אַ קלײן בעקעלע און גיסט'ץ אאָן אַ ביסל מאַסלינע בױמל. באַקט'ץ זײ אָפּ אױף 375, מישט'ץ זײ אַ ביסל נאָך 15 מינוט, און באַקטץ זײ נאָך אַ 15-20 מינוט, זײ זאָלן װערן אַ ביסל ברױנלעך אױף די שפּיצן.


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Monday, November 12, 2007

Musquee de Provence: The Prettiest Pumpkin

What exquisitely defined lobes! The musquee de Provence is a very pretty pumpkin on the outside but nothing prepared me for this:

Wow, I don’t think I have ever seen this color on anything before. The cooked flesh separates into strands like spaghetti squash and is richly flavored with hints of tangerine and pistachio. The texture and juiciness make this an ideal pumpkin for stuffing. And so easy on the eyes. This just might be the Julia Roberts of Squash.

Musquee de Provence Pumpkin for Stuffing

Scrub your pumpkin all over and put it into an appropriately-sized ovenproof dish. Place the dish on a sheet pan in case of any irrational exuberance, and put the pumpkin in the oven. Bake at 375 for about an hour and a half, depending on the size of your pumpkin (this one was 14 pounds). Remove the pumpkin from the oven, and when it is cool enough to handle, cut out a lid. Pour out any fluid that may have accumulated during baking and scoop out the seeds and inner fibers. Salt the inside of the shell and the lid, and fill the stuffing or dressing of your choice, like herbed hominy stuffing, or coconut cornbread stuffing. This time I made chestnut stuffing, to be posted very soon, no solemn vow implied. Spoon the filling in gently, and resist valiantly the impulse to tamp it down. You can bake the remaining out-of-pumpkin stuffing on its own. Return the stuffed pumpkin to the oven and bake another hour or so.

The vibrant color of this pumpkin indicate a rich store of carotene and anthocyanin. Sweetnicks will provide links to more of these life-giving antioxidants.
Food and Drink, Recipes, Cooking, Food, Vegetarian, vegan, vegetables, antioxidant-rich foods, , ,

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dinosaur Tibias (Delicata Squash Pakora)

One thing you just gotta have around your kitchen, especially if you sometimes cook for the wee’ans, is chickpea flour. You need the chickpea flour, also called besan, or gram flour, because it is a miraculous protein-rich ingredient that will provide a base for your batters without making them starchy or floury. It will create meltingly crackling crisp crusts for pancakes like these zucchini latkes, and you will be able to make instant fritter batter, or pakora batter without wheat, eggs, gluten, or dairy products.
I recently got some delicious delicata squashes from my CSA and, I could not but notice when I cut into them, that the cross section of a delicata squash looks exactly, but exactly, like the cross section of a dinosaur tibia, and we already know that some members of my family are much more likely to eat food if it looks like a dinosaur (or some part thereof). I remarked as well that the donut-shape is the universal ideal fritter shape and so I made these relatively quick and easy squash fritters. Real pakoras would have a more delicate and complex batter with ghee and many other spices, and you would sift the flour before measuring, but when you can’t do that, and you need fritters now, you want to have this recipe up your sleeve.
Dinosaur Tibias (Delicata Squash Pakora)
1 delicata squash (about one pound)
1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
oil for frying
Slice the squash crosswise about ¼ inch thick. Remove the seeds and fibers (use these for toasted squash seeds).
In a bowl, mix the chickpea flour with salt and cumin about one half cup of water. Add a little more water a tablespoonful at a time until the texture is creamy and comfortable for dipping and coating the squash slices.
Heat oil in a wide skillet or wok. Dip the delicata rings in the chickpea batter and shallow-fry them on both sides until golden brown. Drain on brown paper or towels.
Look at them sizzle! Ah, what isn’t better for being batter-dipped and fried?
See the roundup for Weekend Herb Blogging at The Expatriate’s Kitchen.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

גוט שבת אַלע

די טעג זענען אַזױ קורץ! װאָס קאָן מען קאָכן

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

פּערפּל קאַרטאָפֿל

אָט איז דער טײג פֿאַר קנײדלעך (ניאָקי) פֿון פּערפּלע קאַרטאָפֿל װאָס איך האָב די װאָך געמאַכט. די שױן אָפּגעבאַקענע קנײדלעך האָבן פֿאַרלױרען זײער פּערפּל פֿאַרב.

האַלקעס, האָלעשקעס, קנײדלעך

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hemp Seed Tabouli (and a Belated Introduction to the Hemp Seed Project)

So, what’s with all the hemp seeds, already? My enthusiasm for these rich little seeds has bewildered some of you, and I admit I did not know anything like this was going to happen when I began developing hemp seed recipes a little over a year ago. These guys are close to miraculous in their protein content, omega 3-6-9 profile, fiber and, of course, antioxidants. None of this would be of any interest to me at all if I could not also make them delicious.

You can look up information on hemp seed nutrition at Manitoba Harvest, Nutiva, and Living Harvest. I wish I could refer you to site that did not also sell hemp seeds, but so far the otherwise comprehensive USDA nutrition reference site has taken no notice of hemp seeds. One very reasonable explanation for this is that hardly anyone eats them, and the reason for that is they just don’t have enough good recipes. This is what motivates the hemp seed project In Mol Araan. A few traditional hemp seed recipes come from Lithuanian Cuisine. I have made up some recipes ex tempore based on what was most fresh and plentiful at the time, like these awesome, crisp, meltingly tender zucchini pancakes. I made other recipes, like this tabouli-inspired salad, by jumping off from preparations traditional in other cuisines. This hemp seed tabouli has the advantage of being even more delicious than traditional tabouli, as well as being wheat-free, gluten-free, low-glycemic, and high in protein and antioxidants. See Sweetnicks for similarly virtuous creations.

Hemp Seed Tabouli

2 cups hemp seeds

¼ cup olive oil

4 sprigs fresh mint (¼ cup mint leaves, minced)

½ bunch parsley (½ cup parsley leaves, minced)

3 cloves garlic (I used roja garlic this time)

juice from two lemons


Tabasco sauce

Tomatoes, peeled and seeded (you may use no tomatoes or up to four or five)

Lettuce, if you wish

Put the hemp seed s in a bowl and pour in enough hot or warm water to cover them. Allow to soak half an hour or so. Drain the seeds, reserving the hemp-milk for baking, soup, or smoothies. Mince the herbs together with the garlic cloves and one teaspoon salt. Dress the hemp seeds with oil, minced herbs, and lemon juice. Cut the peeled and seeded tomatoes, if you are using them, into medium dice, and mix them into the hemp salad and scatter a few on top. Serve the salad on some pretty lettuce leaves or just a pretty little bowl.

This recipe appeared in Yiddish here.

דער רעצעפּט געפֿינט זיך אױף ייִדיש דאָ

Peasant Farming in Muscovy, by R. E. F. Smith (London and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977) lists hemp among the taxable grains in 17th century Russia (193). I just have to add that from a footnote on the same page we learn that the pairing of one unit of rye and two of oats was known as yuft’. It just bakes my potatoes to learn that there is a word for one unit of rye and two of oats. I am just going to be using that word at every apropos moment.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Flat-Bottomed Whisk

The preparation of this vanilla pudding I made last week, and of the sauce Mornay for the purple potato gnocchi I am making this week were both rendered much easier that they have been in the past by my nifty little flat-bottomed spiral whisk. It leaves no corner unstirred. And I am not unaware that the season for hot cocoa and hot chocolate is right around the corner, am I now? I got mine at The Peppermill on 16th Avenue in Boro Park; they will dunk it for you right there in the store, if you like.
The Peppermill
5015 16th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11204


Friday, November 02, 2007

Lost and Found Banana Omelets Two Ways

Something I loved to make around the time I was in college was a banana omelet with rice, or sometimes, banana fried rice with an omelet. I don’t know how I fell out of the habit, but you know, you get excited about new foods and they push some old staples out of the repertoire. I had just about completely forgotten banana omelets, but they popped back into my consciousness recently and I made them again just in time for Kanchana’s omelet edition of Weekend Breakfast Blogging.

To make an omelet for one, I use one half of a Cavendish banana (a regular supermarket banana) but if they are available, one of those cute little lady finger bananas would be perfect for a single serving. Of course you can double the recipe for two. Every variety of rice goes well with banana omelets. This time I used basmati rice. You can emphasize the sweetness by using Thai black rice or other sweet rice, or you can use forbidden black rice for a sharper contrast. Short grain brown rice might be the most comforting and breakfasty choice. I also recommend banana sushi and tamago sushi, but I have never prepared them myself.

Banana Omelet with Rice

½ tablespoon butter

½ banana, sliced


2 eggs

cooked rice

Have some hot cooked rice ready. Heat about half a tablespoon of butter in a cast iron pan. Add the banana slices and sprinkle them with a pinch of salt, and cook. Beat two eggs until just combined with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of water. When the bananas are deep golden on both sides, pour the eggs into the pan. Draw the edges inward as they cook. When the omelet is set, turn it out onto a warmed plate with rice.

Banana Rice with an Omelet

1 teaspoon butter

½ banana


½ cup cooked rice

1 teaspoon butter

2 eggs


heat the first teaspoon of butter in a skillet. Add the banana slices and sprinkle them with a pinch of salt. Add the rice, and cook, stirring, until the bananas are deep golden on both sides and some of the rice has a few golden crunchy spots. Turn onto a warmed plate and keep warm while you prepare the eggs, or, if you are making more than one, keep the fried rice in the skillet and prepare the eggs in another pan. Heat the remaining teaspoon of butter in a skillet or omelet pan. Beat two eggs with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of water until just combined. Pour the eggs into the hot pan. Draw the edges inward as they cook. When the omelet is cooked, turn it out onto the banana fried rice.

Be sure to see Kanchana’s WBB roundup at Married to a Desi, and of course, thanks to Saffron Trail for this event.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Choclate Bug Bites and the Utility of Names

In general, I am not likely to observe the feast days of the Catholic calendar, but let me tell you about a little custom for the eve of the day of all souls: Children show up at your house, and you give them candy. Now there is just nothing not to like about that practice. Well, maybe one little thing. For many years there has been very narrow overlap between stuff kids actually want and foods I am willing to have in my house, even for a few hours. This year I made a big hit with organic chocolate bug bites. Each bug bite has a tiny bar of very good milk or dark chocolate and a collectible insect card with valuable bug-lore on the back. You can trade them like chocolate frog cards. Of that bombycid moth (top right) we learn that

[s]howing beauty through simplicity of design, this male moth displays a fine pair of feathered antennae. The Zen-like design displays a peppered frosting of yellow scales towards the wing tips that ware mirrored in the yellow hairs that cover its feet.

Well, I didn’t know that. Yet another insect in which to rejoice! Remember this passage from Through the Looking-Glass? I was remembering the bit about rejoicing in insects, but I had forgotten that Alice and the gnat continue to the utility of names, another subject dear to my heart.

`I know you are a friend, the little voice went on; `a dear friend, and an old friend. And you won't hurt me, though I AM an insect.'

`What kind of insect?' Alice inquired a little anxiously. What she really wanted to know was, whether it could sting or not, but she thought this wouldn't be quite a civil question to ask.

`What, then you don't -- ' the little voice began, when it was drowned by a shrill scream from the engine, and everybody jumped up in alarm, Alice among the rest.

[. . . ]

` -- then you don't like all insects?' the Gnat went on, as quietly as if nothing had happened.

`I like them when they can talk,' Alice said. `None of them ever talk, where I come from.'

`What sort of insects do you rejoice in, where YOU come from?' the Gnat inquired.

`I don't REJOICE in insects at all,' Alice explained, `because I'm rather afraid of them -- at least the large kinds. But I can tell you the names of some of them."

`Of course they answer to their names?' the Gnat remarked carelessly.

`I never knew them do it.'

`What's the use of their having names the Gnat said, `if they won't answer to them?'

`No use to THEM,' said Alice; `but it's useful to the people who name them, I suppose. If not, why do things have names at all?'

From Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, Chapter Three, Looking Glass Insects

The Yiddish word for moth is מאָל (mol)
The Yiddish word for gnat is מוק (muk)