Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Slow-Roasted Garlicky Green Tomatoes

I had some leftover green tomatoes from the green tomato pie with buttermilk-cornmeal crust and did not know what to do. Batter them up and fry them? Too greasy and reminiscent of Donne. Then I stumbled on this Gardening in the Mitten site. Yeow! I added some garlic to the tomatoes and then took some extra steps, as you'll see below. The slow-roasting gentles the puckery taste, giving the unripe fruits a deep, earthy flavor and a buttery mouthfeel. Red pepper adds some heat, and the garlic provides an Old World aroma, your kitchen transforming into a garden tended by Botticelli's goddesses.



Ingredients



a few green tomatoes (the unripe variety, not the heirloom kind)
a few cloves of garlic, peeled (two or three for every tomato)
splash or two of olive oil
salt
pepper
red pepper flakes

Process

Preheat your oven to 250. 

Line a baking pan with foil. Chop the tomatoes and lay on the foil. Add the garlic.

Drizzle olive oil on top. Grind salt and pepper, then add a dash or two of red pepper flakes.

Curve the foil so that it surrounds the tomatoes and prevents leakage. 

Roast for two hours.

For a delicious lunch, try the following:


Toast a sesame bagel. Lay both halves on a plate.

Layer the bagel halves with sharp cheddar.

Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Top with roasted green tomatoes.

Chop some radicchio as a side salad.


 Notes

 

  • I used only two tomatoes, but you can use any number. Adjust proportions of other ingredients accordingly.
  • This really does take two hours for optimal effect, so start at 10:00 if you want your lunch by noon!
  • This would be a great pasta topping with more red pepper flakes and parmesan. 
  • It might not hurt to zest a lemon on the tomatoes before roasting.

Verdict


Until now, I was scared of green tomatoes. Now, I'll look for them every August.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Green Tomato Pie with Buttermilk-Cornmeal Crust

Inspired by Nothing in the House's green tomato pie, I decided to bake a pie featuring the unripe fruit, but savory instead of sweet. Being from the Bronx, I know next to nothing about green tomatoes and their properties, but I threw together a heap of my favorite ingredients, and the end result was smashing. A flaky, tender crust with a hint of grit gives way to a forkful of the season's bounty. I bought most of my ingredients at the Silver Spring farmer's market, and it was worth the airiness in my wallet to put this on the table.


Ingredients

 

Crust

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
pinch salt
2 sticks butter
3/4-1 cup buttermilk


Filling

 

4-5 medium green tomatoes (the unripe kind, not the heirloom kind--they should be as hard and sour as a third-grade teacher coming back from vacation)
1 package veggie bacon
4 ears corn (or half a bag frozen, preferably Trader Joe's blackened kernels)
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove
3 scallions, sliced
handful basil leaves, chopped fine
2 Tbsp cornstarch
pinch or two salt
generous amount ground pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
squeeze lemon
1/2 tsp honey
1 cup sharp cheddar, grated


Process

 

You'll probably want to alternate between the crust part of the instructions and the filling part. You can also make the dough ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate it. If you freeze, let it thaw for a few hours in the refrigerator before attempting to roll. You can also make the filling ahead of time and refrigerate.


Crust


Obtain a 10-inch pie pan. Set aside.

Cut the butter into cubes. Put in a bowl and place in the freezer until frozen--about 20 to 30 minutes.

Pour flour, cornmeal, and salt into a food processor. Pulse to aerate. (The lazy chef's way of sifting.)

When butter is frozen, pulse with the flours until the butter is in pea-sized chunks. It won't take a lot of pulsing. Even if you overdo it and the mixture turns into a sandy powder, let's face it, it will still be pie crust.

Pour everything into a bowl. Add buttermilk a little at a time and work it in with your hands until the dough just sticks together in a ragged clump. (I estimated the amount above, but use your best judgment.)

Form dough into two balls, wrap tightly in plastic, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Now you can start the filling!

Filling halfway there? It's time to roll the crust. Here is my no-fail, easy-if-you-have-all-the-components method.

Tear off two large sheets of parchment paper or wax paper.

Lay the first sheet on a silicon pie mat or your countertop.

Place one of the rounds of dough on the sheet. Place the other sheet on top.

Using a rolling pin (I prefer the French kind), roll out the dough, turning the mat or the sheet of paper as you go so that it flattens into an even circle (who are we kidding--a geometrically unclassifiable surface that looks vaguely round if you take off your glasses).

When the dough seems roughly the size and flatness needed to serve as a bottom crust, peel from the paper and place in the pie pan, trimming, adding, and crimping as needed. Prick some holes on the bottom and sides with a fork.

Place the pan in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. 

You have the filling all ready to go?

Don't reach for your iPhone just yet! You still have the other round of dough.

Repeat the steps above, chortling gleefully this time, as the dough won't have to labor like its more industrious twin to line a baking dish. It need only be dropped from above to form the perfect covering for your filling.

When the dough seems flat enough and the circumference long enough to form a top crust, take the bottom crust out of the freezer. Heap with filling, then top with top crust. Prick holes in the top crust with a fork.


Follow the instructions below for baking.

 

Filling


Preheat the oven to 425.

Put a little oil in a pan. Sear the veggie bacon. Remove from heat.

Thinly slice tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Add salt and toss.

Tear veggie bacon into pieces and toss with tomatoes.

Scrape the kernels off the ears of corn (or pour in frozen corn) and add to the tomato mixture.

Mix in red pepper, green pepper, and onions.

Crush in garlic.

Add scallions and basil.

Add cornstarch and toss until consistency is uniform.

Add ground pepper and red pepper flakes. Squeeze in lemon and massage in the bit of honey.

Grate in the cheese (I did this right into the bowl--the measurement above is an approximation).

Toss everything together with your hands. Add more of anything that seems underrepresented.

Once you've assembled your pie as described above, place it in the oven.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and bake another 40-50 minutes, until crust is golden-brown and edges are fizzing.

You may want to cover the crust with aluminum foil after the first 5 minutes, taking the foil off 10 minutes from the end.

Set pie on a rack to cool. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm.

I bet this pie tastes good cold.



Notes

 

  • I completely winged this recipe, and suggest that you do the same. For the filling, use whatever you like, in whatever quantities. The green tomatoes provide a backdrop for anything pungent, spicy, savory, crunchy, or herbal.
  • I actually used green olives instead of green pepper and onions, but tasting the pie a few times convinced me that green pepper and onions would have been the better call. This pie is so glorious, though, that olives won't exactly leave you crying in your beer.
  • If you want, you can chop up some rosemary and add it to the pie dough. You can also use dried herbs.
  • Gruyere would be good in lieu of cheddar.
  • I used veggie bacon because I'm a vegetarian. Salty protein from a vegetable: modern life is delicious.
  • I did not add a lot of basil for fear of overpowering the pie. You can experiment with more, or try other herbs such as marjoram or oregano.
  • This recipe is for a 10-inch pie. For a 9-inch pie, your crust could have 2 heaping cups flour, 1/3 cup cornmeal, 15 Tbsp butter, and 1/2 cup buttermilk. Maybe subtract a tomato.

 

Verdict


5 stars. One of my favorite recipes yet and a summer keeper.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rosy Blackberry Cobbler


Packed with summer-fresh berries, sliced peach, and rhubarb, this cobbler features a silky buttermilk topping. Two lemons' worth of zest marries happily with the fruits, transporting you to a sun-dappled orchard in which you romp through brambles, mouth stained with purple. I made this cobbler after a berry-picking expedition at Homestead Farm in Poolesville, Maryland.

 

Ingredients

 

1 stick butter
2 lemons

4 cups blackberries
2 peaches, thinly sliced
2-3 stalks rhubarb, sliced
3/4 cup sugar
dusting of grated nutmeg
dash or two of cinnamon
dash of ground ginger
3 Tbsp cornstarch

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
dash or two of cinnamon
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk


Process


Preheat the oven at 350.

Get out a 9 x 13 baking pan. No need to grease!

Melt the stick of butter in a small saucepan. When mostly melted, with one thin rectangle bobbing in its golden bath, remove from heat. The rectangle will vanish into its hot tub.

zest both lemons, producing a tinselly heap. Cut one of the lemons in half.

Toss fruit into a large bowl. Add the sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cornstarch. Toss with hands to combine. It's going to be glorious! Add half the lemon zest and half the melted butter. Toss some more. Oh yes!

Pour the fruit into the baking pan, spreading it so that it's even.

In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Add the other half of the lemon zest. Pour in the butter and buttermilk and fold into the flour. Batter will be slightly lumpy. No overmixing!

Spread the batter over the fruit. In typical Toppled Chef style, I scooped and spread it with my bare hands. It worked out pretty well.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and top is golden brown.

Pull out and let cool on a wire rack. I'd eat this the next day for breakfast, but you can always serve hot with a scoop of ice cream.


Notes

 

  • For the flour, I used 1 cup white and 1 1/2 cups white wheat, with a healthy shaking of flax, which is why you see speckles in the photo. You don't have to be this granola. However, any combination of flours should work. The butter and the buttermilk will ensure a tender crust.
  • Likewise, you can use any combination of fruits. I happen to love the earthy blackberries jazzed with rubescent stalk fruit and mellowed with peach, but blueberry-strawberry-nectarine would be just as good.
  • What kind of cobbler is this? It isn't a cakey cobbler, where the dough rises through the fruit, but the topping isn't quite a biscuit topping, as it's too runny to form mounds. It's more of a lazy fruit pie with a biscuity slump on top. This works for the Tipsy Crumpet!
  • Note that the knife test doesn't work to test doneness. I pulled the cobbler out of the oven after 30 minutes because the knife came out clean. The next morning, my heart sank as I spooned out a wad of fruit clumped with undercooked batter. It was edible, but I had to put the cobbler back into the oven for another HOUR to get it to an acceptable level of non-rawness. This did the trick, in case the same kitchen pratfall occurs to you.
  • Some people like a sugary cobbler. Not I! The 1 1/2 cups of sugar in this recipe go toe-to-toe with the double whammy of lemon zest and a heap of rhubarb. If you like your dessert to feel more like a slap on the face, this is the one for you.
  • This makes a delightful Sunday breakfast.

Verdict

 


4 stars. Quite good, if you like your cobbler topped with a tender crust and filled with the textures, scents, and colors of summer.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tangy Lemon-Herb Salad


This herbaceous salad dances on your tongue with a combination of summer greens, lemon, artichoke brine, and salt. You'll swoon, you'll eat more, you'll want only salad for dinner, you'll forget about dessert. If the Tipsy Crumpet would rather eat salad than anything else, you KNOW it's a good salad.



serves 4 as a dinner salad and 8 as a side salad

 

Ingredients


1 bag prewashed arugula
1 head radicchio
2 cups quartered artichoke hearts in brine (from the deli section is optimal)
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
any other veggie you want to add--cherry tomatoes, chopped red bell pepper, etc.
bundle fresh mint
bundle fresh chives
bundle fresh dill
1 lemon
pinch salt
few grinds pepper

Process


Obtain a large bowl. Fill with arugula.

Half the radicchio. Slice each half into ribbons, then turn 90 degrees and slice the ribbons into ribbons. It's like delicious geometry homework!

Mix the radicchio and the arugula. Add the artichoke hearts. Pour in some of the brine (when I say "some," I mean "some." Use your intuition.)

Add the olives. Give a few good tosses with your hands. Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

Chop as much mint, chives, and dill as seems appropriate. Toss with the veggies. Add any other veggies you have.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half on the salad. Toss with your hands. At this point, you may nibble an arugula leaf. Does it need more lemon? Squeeze on the other half (the Tipsy Crumpet likes a LOT of lemon).

Add the salt and pepper. Toss with your hands.

Now you have a fresh, gleaming, tart, tangy, and tender dinner accompaniment.

Notes


  • You could add some feta cheese. You don't need it, but it couldn't hurt.
  • If you're not crazy about feta but still want cheese, grate in some parmesan or asiago, using the larger grater holes so the cheese doesn't dissolve into the dressing.
  • This is a flexible salad. You can use other herbs, though chives, dill, and mint play well together and taste great with lemon. Basil would overwhelm the salad and hog all the attention. Oregano might taste too bitter. But mix and match and try anything you want. As long as you have brine, lemon, and salt, you'll want to keep eating until the last leaf is gone.
  • You really don't need other veggies for this salad. But if you're serving it as a dinner salad, garlic bread would be a terrific accompaniment. Slice a whole-wheat baguette lengthwise, smear with olive oil, and top with crushed fresh garlic. A few shakes of dried basil and red pepper flakes, a brief stint in the oven at broil, and you'll have a crunchy, pungent sidekick to your meal.

Verdict


This is a five-star salad.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Seven-Mango Layer Cake with Raspberry Filling and Mango-Rum Frosting (vegan)

I created this cake for an Earth day/birthday party. Super moist and fluffy despite the lack of eggs, the cake earned rave reviews from the non-vegan crowd. You need a LOT of mangoes to make this work, and the cake is somewhat labor-intensive, but it's worth it. It's like a vegan prima donna strutting her pulchritudinous self down a fruited runway.


serves an adventurous crowd

Ingredients

Cake

 

3 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
dash salt
tsp cardamom
2 cups mango puree (see below)
3/4 cup almond milk (or other kind of non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup rum
2/3 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Raspberry Filling

 

12-oz package frozen raspberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

Frosting

 

1/2 to 1 cup mango puree (see below)
1/4 cup softened Earth Balance
1/4 cup softened Tofutti cream cheese
2 cups confectioner's sugar (more as needed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
dash or so rum
raspberries and blueberries for garnish (optional)

Mango Puree (3 cups)

7 or 8 champagne mangoes
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice


Process

 

Let's start with the puree, as you'll need it for both the cake and the frosting. 

Mango Puree

 

Peel the mangoes, then slice them. This is rather tricky with champagne mangoes, but you should be able to get off most of the flesh.

Put the sliced mango in a food processor. Add the sugar and lemon juice.

Puree until smooth. You may have to do this in batches.

You can make the puree ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator, tightly covered.

Cake

 

Preheat oven to 350.

Oil two round cake pans.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom into a large bowl.

In another bowl, mix the mango puree, almond milk, rum, oil, sugar, and vanilla.

Tip the wet ingredients into the dry. With bold strokes, mix until batter is smooth. Don't overmix, lest you want the crumb to turn from silky to rubbery.

Pour equal amounts of batter into the two cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. You may find a few golden crumbs clinging to your utensil. This is fine.

Let cakes cool for 10 minutes before turning them onto a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the. . .

Filling

Pour raspberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice into a small saucepan.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until raspberry globules have freed themselves from the raspberry unit and mixed with all the other globules in a communal slurry.

Strain the mixture using a fine sieve. Pour the seedless communal slurry into the saucepan and return the saucepan to the stove.

Pour in the dissolved cornstarch solution and mix.

Bring the slurry back to a boil and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Remove from the heat to let it cool completely, stirring now and then. If the slurry becomes a gob of unspreadable raspberry goo, add a little water to thin it out.

When both cakes and filling are completely cool, spread the filling on one cake and place the other cake on top. We're nearly there!

Frosting

 

Cream vegan cream cheese and Earth Balance.

Add confectioner's sugar, whipping the two together all the while. If this takes too much coordination, alternate adding sugar and whipping.

Mix in the vanilla and rum. Take a swig of rum. You deserve it!

Stir in half a cup of mango puree. How's the consistency? Add more mango and/or confectioner's sugar as needed, tasting the frosting to make sure it's the tropical topping of your dreams.

When all is to your liking, spread the frosting along the sides and top of the cake until cake is completely covered. Only lick the spatula when you're suuuuuuuuure you're satisfied.

When the cake looks like a snowy mango bride, dot the frosting with raspberries and blueberries. Refrigerate until serving so that the frosting doesn't slump.

Notes


  • I used champagne mangoes, which are small and have a tart flavor that I like. If you go for a sweeter mango, such as Haitian or the larger, orange variety with the greenish skin, you'll probably need fewer mangoes for the puree.
  • When I made this cake, I did not believe that the frosting would be enough, and doubled the recipe (keeping the one cup of mango puree). This produced way too much. I then felt compelled to bake vegan chocolate cupcakes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, spread them with the frosting, and top each with a strawberry slice. Not a bad way to use any leftovers.
  • You don't NEED rum. But it's a nice addition, especially if you use the tarter mangoes.
  • It will take you at least half a day to bake and assemble this cake if you complete all the steps in one day. If you want, you can make the puree, frosting, and filling ahead of time.

Verdict

 

It's exhausting just to write about this cake, but it truly is worth it if you have a friend or loved one who requires some vegan cake magic. Especially nice during early spring, when everyone starts craving fruit.

"I am the mango cake monster who eats up all your time and resources. . . but everyone else will love me. Muhuhahahaha!"

Monday, July 21, 2014

Caramel Brownies

The recipe said to use drugstore caramels. Whaaaaat? The Toppled Chef would rather not bake brownies at all than use those waxy, corn syrup-laden squares that contain artificial flavor. A caramel should taste like caramel because it IS caramel, thinks the Toppled Chef. And so she created some ooey gooey drippy brownies with a panful of blood orange-infused caramel that tasted so ambrosial, it was like eating flower-strewn earth from fairyland. Bonus: the natural ingredients don't leave your esophagus feeling as if it's lined with plastic bags and your head aching with fake candy malaise.


This could serve a gaggle of adults and children.


Ingredients

 

Caramel

 

1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
Tbsp or so fresh juice from a blood orange (optional)

Brownie Batter

 

3 1/2 sticks butter (the other half-stick is the angel's share?)
heaping cup bittersweet chocolate chips
6 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
pinch salt


Process

 

Butter (if you can stomach it) a 9 x 13 baking pan.

 

Caramel

 

Heat sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. The sugar will clump up and turn golden-brown. Keep a close eye on it and remove from heat as soon as it turns a pleasing shade of amber--the sugar will darken and calcify into a bitter mass in the blink of an eye.

Add the butter right away, being careful of spatter.

Stir the butter into the sugar until it is completely melted.

Drizzle in the heavy cream.

Allow the mixture to boil for one minute.

Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Squeeze in a few tablespoons of blood orange if you want. Rum would also be divine.

You can store the caramel in the refrigerator if you make it ahead of time. You may want to let it warm before using.

 

Brownies

 

Preheat the oven to 350.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler or the pan-within-a-pan-of-boiling-water used by the Tipsy Crumpet. Stir until just melted and let cool.

In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Add the cooled chocolate mixture.

Sift the flour and salt into the chocolate mixture. Mix until well-combined.

Pour half the batter into the baking pan and spread until even.

Refrigerate for 10 minutes (you can make the caramel during this time).

Pull the brownie pan out of the refrigerator and pour the caramel on top. Depending on how gooey you want the brownies to be, you may want to use half the caramel and save the rest for later.

Refrigerate the pan for 20 more minutes to allow the caramel to set.

Pull the brownie pan out again and spread the rest of the brownie batter on top. Let the pan come to room temperature before putting in the oven.

Bake for 35 minutes, and then check for doneness.

Using the entire amount of caramel produced a fascinating oven phenomenon for me. A crackly crust emerged that was raised by a bubbling lava of caramel such that the brownie looked like a sacred tablet held aloft by a host. I baked for nearly an hour before declaring the confection done. Using less caramel may produce a more normal baking experience. When in doubt, if the caramel starts hardening and turning a darker shade of brown, it's time to pull out the pan. I promise the brownie will settle into a traditional form, although I can't promise that it will ever be tamed in spirit.

Pull the beast out of the oven and let it cool on a rack for a good long while.

You will want to refrigerate before attempting to cut these. Good luck!


Notes

 

  • You don't have to cut these. Spooning out brownie fluff will produce enticing caverns with caramel runoff.
  • You don't have to flavor the caramel, but orange, blood orange, rum, whiskey, and brandy would all add to the decadence.
  • A little of these go a long way. Best for a party or barbecue!

Verdict


5 stars--worth having to clean the crusty pan.


Coffee-Chocolate-Kahlua Ice Cream Pie

If the swelter of midsummer has you pining for an icy treat, pine no more! This boozy pie, with its caffeine punch and candy crackle, is like Good Humor for adults. I took Guy Fieri's coffee liqueur ice cream pie recipe and threw in some curveballs. The result is a tipsy mud pie you'll crave.


Serves 6-8. No one will eat just one slice.


Ingredients

 

Crust

1 box chocolate cookie wafers, crushed (I used MI-DEL's chocolate snaps)
5 Tbsp butter, melted

 

Pie

 

2 pints coffee ice cream, softened (on counter for 15 to 20 minutes)
2 pints chocolate ice cream, softened (on counter for 15 to 20 minutes)
6 Tbsp Kahlua
generous handful chocolate-covered coffee beans, crushed

 

Topping

 

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 Tbsp Kahlua
bittersweet chocolate bar for shaving
handful chocolate-covered coffee beans (optional)

Process

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix crushed chocolate cookie wafers with melted butter. Press onto bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Let cool.

Combine softened ice cream and Kahlua using a mixer until creamy (you may have to do this in installments). Stir in crushed chocolate-covered coffee beans. Oh yes! Fill pie crust with ice cream mixture, cover with plastic wrap, and place in freezer for 3 to 4 hours.

Once the wait is over, whip cream with confectioner's sugar and Kahlua until soft peaks form (I do this with a hand mixer and inevitably end up spattering my walls, person, and nearby kitchen appliances with sugary foam). Top the pie with whipped cream. Refreeze for one hour.

Before serving, take a peeler and shave bittersweet chocolate over the pie. You may also top with chocolate-covered coffee beans.

Notes

  • I was afraid that freezing the whipped cream would cause it to slump into an unappetizing icy slurry. Not so! The whipped topping stayed good for days, and your pie will probably not last that long.
  • The crushed chocolate-covered coffee beans are key to elevating this pie to greatness, adding crunch and texture in concentrated bits of flavor. But you could do without in a pinch.

Verdict

 

5 stars plus. This will be the belle of the ball at any summer potluck. If you do what I did and serve slices garnished with mint and strawberries, prepare for those dainty embellishments to be ignored as your guests plow into the tundra.