The Sensitive Kitchen

Friday, October 31, 2008

Smoky Southwestern Ranch Dressing

In case you haven't guessed, smoked paprika is the hot "it" thing in my kitchen right now.

1/2 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp light mayo
large handful cilantro leaves
1 scallion, rough-chopped
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp sugar
dash smoked paprika

Combine all in blender jar. Whizz until smooth. Can add another small handful of cilantro at the end, processing only partially for texture.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Smoky Tofu Taco Filling

Much better than it sounds - my husband couldn't believe it was tofu. Smoked paprika is the star here, lending smoky-sweet overtones without adding spice; vary the amount according to your preference. This is a great use for any randomly shaped scraps you may have left over from, for example, spending a lot of time cutting out tofu fish to bread and bake for your kids' lunchboxes (which, by the way, they refused to eat).

1 pound extra-firm organic tofu
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano, rubbed between fingers to a powder
1/2 to 1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Drain tofu of liquid; press briefly between tea towels to remove excess moisture. Crumble with fingers.

Spray skillet generously with nonstick cooking spray. Over medium heat, add tofu; sprinkle with spices. Saute, stirring continuously, until heated through and fragrant. Makes about 2 cups. Great in Mexican lasagna!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Coconut Cream Burfi

This one takes longer to cook than the other sweets and is more finicky in texture and cooking time. But it's worth it: my Adri loves her coconut.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup finely shredded, unsweetened desiccated coconut (Let's Do Organic makes a good one)
1/8 tsp ground cardamom

Heat sugar and water in a 2-quart stainless steel saucepan. When mixture bubbles and sugar is completely dissolved, add cream. Return to boil, then add coconut and cardamom. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened and follows your spatula when you stir. This may take 15 minutes or more. Pour onto a Silpat, shape quickly, let stand till firm (will still be hot), then cut with the back of a table knife into squares. Cool completely on Silpat before storing in an airtight tin between sheets of waxed paper. Makes 20 burfi.

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Easy Pedas

Another Diwali sweet, our household's favorite, pronounced PAY-dahs.

1 stick butter
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups instant powdered milk
Optional flavoring (choose one): 1/8 teaspoon powdered saffron or 1/4 teaspoon powdered cardamom seeds

2-quart stainless steel saucepan
Heatproof spatula
Silpat or silicone nonstick baking mat (optional) or waxed paper
Plastic spool of thread with paper on one side removed to reveal pattern

Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan. Add sweetened condensed milk; stir with a heatproof spatula until mixture bubbles. Add powdered milk, stirring in. Cook over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes. You will see the mixture begin to thicken and pull away from the sides of the pan.

When mixture is ready, stir in optional flavorings, if using. Remove to Silpat (optional, but helps speed cooling) or set aside until cool enough to handle. Roll into small balls a little smaller than a walnut and set on Silpat or waxed paper. Press down with decorative end of spool to imprint peda with pattern.

Makes 30 pedas. Store any leftovers, refrigerated, between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cashew Burfi

As our household prepares for Diwali, I have begun making sweets of all kinds. This is one of the easiest.

1 cup cashews
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

2-quart stainless steel saucepan
Clean coffee grinder
Silpat silicone baking mat
chilled plate

Finely grind the cashews to a powder in batches in the coffee grinder. Be careful not to process too long or you will get nut butter!

Mix the sugar and water in the saucepan. Heat till small bubbles begin to appear on the surface. Stir gently and let it come to a rolling boil.

Pour in the cashew powder and stir well to avoid lumps. Keep stirring for a few minutes; you should notice the mixture getting a bit thicker. Put a little drop on a chilled plate; test to see if it hardens slightly. You should be able to roll it into a loose ball. When you achieve this, take the pan off the heat immediately.

Dump/spoon the mixture out of the saucepan onto the Silpat. Be careful! Treat the mixture like molten lava, which will scorch your skin accordingly. Using the back of the Silpat, press and fold the dough several times. As it cools it will become more smooth and glossy in appearance.

When the burfi dough appears malleable, working quickly, roll it out to 1/4" thick with a rolling pin. (You must get the thickness right before it cools too much.) Cut into diamond-shaped pieces; allow to cool fully on the Silpat, then pack in tins between sheets of waxed paper.

Store at room temperature for up to a week. You can keep them in the fridge for longer, if they last that long!

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Roasted Red Pepper-Almond Dip

I had a piece of baguette that had completely dried up; this is what I came up with to use it.

1/4 stale baguette
1/2 cup blanched, slivered almonds
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 roasted red pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled and passed through a garlic press
salt and ground black pepper

Soak bread in water to cover for 15 minutes. Squeeze lightly to remove most of the water, reserving water.

In a food processor, process almonds until finely ground. Add bread, oil, lemon, roasted red pepper, garlic, and 1/2 cup soaking water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth.

Transfer to a serving bowl. If the dip is too thick, whisk in enough of the remaining water until smooth and creamy. Serve at room temperature with olives and warm pita bread.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Zucchini Parmesan Pancakes

This recipe is the latest in my ongoing saga of attempts to get Adri to eat zucchini. Dorai and I thought they were great; she wouldn't touch them.

2 largish zucchini, ends cut off, grated
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
salt and pepper
1 egg (I used 3 egg whites)

Salt zucchini and let stand in a colander over the sink.

Mix cheese, flour, salt and pepper.

Squeeze zucchini to remove most of liquid. Add to cheese mixture, tossing to coat evenly. Add egg whites.

Fry by tablespoonfuls in a medium-hot skillet. Great with tomato sauce.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Grilled Three-Cheese Sandwiches

Great with the tomato soup below.

4" hunk pain au levain
2 ounces brie, thinly sliced
1 1/2 ounces provolone, thinly sliced
1 1/2 ounces aged cheddar, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp roasted garlic olive oil

Preheat panini press or heavy skillet. Cut pain au levain into 6 thin slices. Assemble sandwiches by layering cheeses between slices of bread. Brush each outside of sandwich with oil. Grill until cheese is melted and bread is browned. Cut in half; serve.

Creamy Tomato Soup with a Difference

The "difference" in this creamy tomato soup? Pureed red lentils add flavor, depth, heartiness and a nutritional boost.

2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
15-ounce can organic diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup red lentils, washed
4 cups vegetable stock (I like this brand)
1 bay leaf
4 Tbsp creme fraiche, sour cream, or half-and-half
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and butter together in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Saute onion until translucent. Add to stoneware slow cooker insert with carrot, tomato, lentils, stock and bay leaf (use broth to rinse browned bits from saucepan). Cook on HIGH 3-4 hours or until lentils are tender. Remove bay leaf. Puree soup in blender (use a tea towel to prevent splatters). Swirl in creme fraiche, season to taste, and serve.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Black and White Marble Sheet Cake

In case anyone is wondering, this cake makes a very nice-looking fish.

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream (regular or low fat)
1 cup milk (whole or low fat)

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, cocoa powder, hot water and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. Whisk to combine and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and sour cream. Working in two or three additions, alternate adding flour mixture and milk to butter mixture (ending with addition of flour), mixing until no streaks of flour remain.

Scoop out 1 cup of cake batter and stir into cocoa mixture.

Spread white batter into prepared pan. Top with chocolate batter and drag a knife through to create a swirling pattern (don’t over marble, though!).

Bake for 32-36 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

Turn out onto a wire rack; cool completely before frosting.