caramelized onion dip & cilantro garlic pita

It’s finally here… Mad Men season 5 premiere night! As a non-TV owner, I’m taking advantage of the kindness of a nearby friend and thought I’d bring over a 60’s-inspired snack. In honor of the Chip N’ Dip wedding gift Pete Campbell exchanges for a rifle in season one, I went with onion dip.

Strangely enough, I’m pretty sure I had never made an onion dip until today. I’m usually a guacamole kind of girl. The original recipe for this comes from Epicurious, but of course I made it lower fat and higher protein by substituting reduced fat sour cream and non-fat greek yogurt (about a 3:1 ratio) and the chips are made with whole wheat pita. I also added a touch of cayenne and cumin to the dip for a bit more depth of flavor. Here’s a great video by the way, of how to dice an onion quickly and efficiently (with less crying). I love Gordon Ramsay. And, for the garlic in the pita chip oil, here’s a really cool way to peel your garlic in less than 10 seconds.

Now, not that anyone in the 60’s would have cared about health, resting their martini glass on their pregnant belly, Lucky Strike in hand, but I think my healthier version of onion dip could have rivaled that of any housewife! Betty Draper would be proud.

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Note: if you live in a studio, as I do, everything you own will smell like onions for a week after making this.

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coconut avocado brownies

So at the beginning of this semester, I spent several weeks writing a proposal for my food science class on avocado as a fat-replacer to make healthier brownies, only to have it deemed not worthy of being tested out for real in the lab! (Only 6% of recipes were chosen, but still. Bitter.) So I figured since I’d put all that work into the idea, I might as well test it out at home. But if you’re going to get experimental with brownies, why not get really experimental?

Those of you who know me know that I hate wasting anything. I had a bag of shredded coconut in the fridge left over from cookies I made in February, and it had gotten all dry. I didn’t know if there was anything I could do with dried-out coconut, so I decided to throw it into the spice grinder and see if I could make coconut “flour.” Well, I wouldn’t call the consistency of what came out “flour” exactly, but for this it seemed to serve its purpose. I also used agave nectar instead of refined sugar and tried egg whites instead of eggs. Also, many of these amounts were sort of eyeballed, so I apologize if you have to adjust. Precision isn’t exactly my thing. (Hmm, why didn’t my recipe didn’t get picked in food science class?). So here’s what I did: In a big bowl, mix the following with a hand blender (or you could puree in a food processor): 1 small/medium avocado, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup coconut “flour,” 1/3 cup light agave nectar (you could use honey instead), 3/4 tsp baking powder, tiny pinch of salt, 1/3 cup egg whites (if you’re vegan, as I’m sure you know, you can make flax eggs) and 1 tsp vanilla. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
Warning: these will be fudgy. Almost non-brownie-like, and they don’t rise very much at all! The flavor was good but this batch came out a bit salty, so in this recipe above I already adjusted for that, which hopefully fixes the problem. Try it! And feel free to change things and give me feedback. You pretty much have nothing to lose when playing with chocolate.

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bulgur basil brinjal bake

Today was one of those days that called for inventing recipes from whatever was in my fridge. For brunch I made a fritatta with artichoke hearts, broccoli, mozzarella, and spicy veggie sausage. And for dinner (and for lunches for the next few days) I threw an even more random assortment of foods into the oven. I started out making sort of a casserole, and then discovered halfway through that I had a half box of lasagna noodles, so it turned into a sort of casserole-lasagna-bake. Caslake? Not so happy with that name. Well, I had bulgur, a ton of basil, and some veggies in my casserole-lasagna-bake. Eager for alliteration in my title of this baked creation, I was excited to discover that eggplant goes by many names, one of which is “brinjal.” So here you have it: Bulgur Basil Brinjal Bake.

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First I sliced an eggplant and two zucchinis and baked them at 400 for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile I cooked 1/2 cup of bulgur wheat with a cube of vegetable bouillon. I layered the bottom of a lasagna/casserole dish with some Monte Bene farm fresh tomato sauce (a brand I really like lately) and some lasanga noodles. Then I layered the bulgur over that, and then a layer of eggplant, topped with another layer of sauce and a layer of basil almost as thick as the sauce. After another layer of noodles, I added the zucchini, then the remaining sauce and a sprinkle of part-skim mozzarella. I also gave the sauce a hefty shake of red pepper flakes – you can leave that out if you’re not into the spiciness – and baked at 400 for about 30 minutes until the top was brown and crispy!

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wintery spring rolls & miso salmon

Sometimes the main course is an afterthought. It’s true. It’s probably not how one is ideally “supposed” to plan a menu, but given that I’m not running a restaurant, I think it’s ok.

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Wintery spring rolls

I’d been drooling over the idea of these wintery spring rolls for weeks, from the moment they were posted on my favorite food blog. I followed the recipe pretty closely but have a few notes: 1. I don’t (yet) own a mortal and pestle. I actually looked into getting one yesterday, and was deterred by the fact that Williams-Sonoma only had a $99 one! I ended up using an attachment on my hand blender to sort of pulse the ingredients into a paste. It was either that or saran wrap and a hammer, and I opted for least messy. 2. It is nearly impossible to assemble spring rolls in a mini-kitchen. The only other time I’ve made them (Vegan week 2011), I was actually in my boyfriend’s enormous (by NY standards) kitchen, and last night I didn’t quite realize the extent of what I was getting myself into until I found myself soaking spring roll wrappers in a bowl in the sink, grabbing lettuce off the stovetop, and reaching for my tofu stash on top of the fridge. 3. The recipe says you don’t need a dipping sauce, which is true if you are good at slathering the brown sugar-garlic mixture on the tofu. I chose to make a peanut-soy-rice vinegar-mirin mix anyway, with a touch of red pepper flakes, and it was a great compliment. A little added extra challenge if you’re going to take them for lunch the next day and try to eat them in a classroom however…

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Wintery spring rolls & salmon with miso glaze

Oh yes, and the broiled salmon with miso glaze, the afterthought… I can take exactly zero credit for this expertly cooked picture-perfect fish, as Chris made the whole thing AND battled my tiny broiler and fended off the dog with a garbage can barricade at the same time. Recipe can be found here. This will definitely be a favorite recipe in the future, and might even be what I design the appetizer or side dish around next time, instead of the opposite…