Ma po tofu and rice bowl recipe

Hello first really cold day of winter! All thoughts of a brisk walk in the woods or a climb up a big hill went away after I stepped outside to get the newspaper. Last I checked, the temperature was trying to climb into the double digits.

When it gets this cold, I want to curl up with the cat and read a book. I want to eat something warm, saucy, filling, and savory. And, a trip to the grocery store or anywhere in a cold car is not for a wimp like me. So this is one of those pantry and freezer cooking challenges days.

Fortunately, I had enough of the ingredients to make a version of Mark Bittman’s ma po tofu. I changed some of the proportions, left out green onions, and added red bell pepper and crushed peanuts. Continue reading

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Spanish chickpea spinach soup

Happy new year! I’m starting 2012 with one simple resolution that will benefit you and me–cooking from cookbooks that I received as treasured gifts in the past couple months.

This I decided during today’s walk around Walden Pond, as I thought about the meaning of life and dismissed tedious fitness goals, and then resolved to cook from more cookbooks this year and read Proust. Continue reading

Healthy honey almond flax granola recipe

The Cement Truck Kitchen was in full holiday gift manufacturing mode this month. We made triple batches of this granola, gearing up for all the bags to deliver from Chanukkah through the new year’s parties.

I’ve been auditioning granola recipes for years. My family has been happy about this and is at the ready to do batch comparisons and blind taste tests.

This recipe is a distant cousin to a long ago Martha Stewart recipe.

In Cement Truck Kitchen taste tests, it’s less sweet, but still tied with Melissa Clark’s olive oil granola and Molly Wizenberg’s granola. I encourage you to make this recipe your own–replace the almonds and pecans with other nuts that you like (pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts?), swap whole flax seeds or pumpkin seeds for the sesame seeds, and mix in your favorite dried fruits.
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Roasted squash salad with pomegranate vinaigrette + easy slow-cooker vegetarian chili

Hello! For all my west coast friends and family who have visions of me shivering in a snowsuit, just want you to know that we survived the Nor’easter of October ’11. We were not snowed in and trapped at home, but the frigid cold did not bekon me outdoors, so I stayed inside and made a roasted squash salad and a zesty slow cooker vegetarian sweet potato chili. Continue reading

How to Host an Oktoberfest Party

Want to have a fun, semi-traditional Oktoberfest party with traditional food and music? Ok, well, then how about an excuse to get together with people you like and drink beer with some good food?

Here’s how to host a successful Oktoberfest party in three easy steps. For more on traditional menus and recipes, I recommend this Oktoberfest food guide.

Step 1: Invite friends and neighbors who can walk or take public transportation to your party.
Step 2: Plan a menu (more on that below) that goes well with beer and assign your guests to bring a dish or beer. The point is not to spend all day in the kitchen, unless you are my neighbor Josh (more on that below).
Step 3: Download traditional music and be prepared to switch to something less polka-like after about an hour. Continue reading

My best lentil soup recipe

I started the search for the best hearty lentil soup recipe when a friend told me she had just had a major surgery and was recovering at home. What could I bring, I asked with trepidation, knowing that she’s a meat and potatoes gal, and that’s not my specialty.

But she wanted soup, so my mind turned to lentil soup, an easy and quick soup recipe that would be filling and satisfying and different from what other folks would be dropping off in containers on the doorstep.

For inspiration, I consulted my advisory panel. First my mom’s primer on lentils, and her lovely lentil vegetable soup. Then I found this lentil and sweet potato gem from Smitten Kitchen and this lively lentil soup recipe. Finally I went hard copy with Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Continue reading

Eggplant rolatini and salad with peach vinaigrette

I used to hate eggplant. My three brothers and I made a no-eggplant pact. We figured if we banded together we could convince my mom not to make it for us. Who could blame us? How about some bitter spongy slices sawed from those fat purple blobs, then coated in egg and bread crumbs and pan fried, for you?

The eggplant ban lasted for decades and then one day a thin, balsamic-roasted slice ended up in a roasted vegetable sandwich. Hmmmm. Pretty good. Then a friend made honey roasted eggplant and I started to rethink eggplant.

What clinched it was overhearing a recipe described a the farmer’s market: roasted eggplant slices, spread with goat cheese and pesto, rolled up and topped with fresh tomato sauce.

So, now that the eggplant ban is officially lifted, I’m making my favorite eggplant dish with my mom and dad, who always thought the ban was ridiculous but gave in to us because we ate everything else they put on our plates. This is a great dish to make for company because it’s vegetarian and easily made vegan, and you can do most prep ahead of time, which means more time to spend with your friends.

Menu
Artichoke and olive tapenade with crackers
Mixed greens with peaches, almonds, and peach vinaigrette
Eggplant rolatini with tomato sauce over linguini
Strawberry sorbet
Continue reading