Archive for January, 2012

Sweet Winter Slaw

January 31, 2012

There are certain things you can count on in life.  The sun will rise, the sun will set.  You will pay taxes.  Unless you have the stomach flu, you will be hungry at some point today.  You know how it goes.  There are also certain things you can count on here on the Dana Treat site.  There will be vegetarian food, there will be chocolate, and about every three months, there will be talk of a Bainbridge yoga retreat.

It is hard for both Jen and me to believe, but May will be our three year anniversary of doing these retreats together.  If you are new here, Bainbridge Island is a magical haven just across Puget Sound from Seattle.  There is a ferry that takes you from our downtown waterfront to the island in about 35 minutes.  My friend Jen, who I have known since 7th grade, lives there and teaches yoga in a studio on her property.  Over three years ago, she told me about her dream of quarterly day-long retreats.  She asked if I would want to partner with her four times a year.  She would provide the space, the yoga instruction, someone to guide meditation or other exercise, and I would make lunch for everyone.  I love Jen.  She is one of my closest friends.  I wanted to help and I also wanted to participate.

So in May of 2009, we launched.  It took me a few retreats to figure out how to get everything done the day before so I could actually participate in the morning yoga session.  Now it goes a little something like this.  I take a 7:55am ferry to the island, drive to Jen’s house, and then spend the time before the 9:30am start unloading my car and getting the kitchen set up.  I find a spot for my mat and towel in the studio and after a short intro of the retreat’s theme (this time it was nourishment), the hot yoga portion starts.  I don’t practice hot yoga at home but I really love doing it on occasion.  Jen is a dear friend of mine but believe me when I tell you that she is a most incredible instructor.  Her own practice is so strong and such a part of her that she teaches from a place of curiosity, experience, and joy.  She talks like a normal person and wherever she takes you, you want to go.  One of my favorite things she said this time was, “Starve the negativity.  If you don’t feed it, it can’t survive”.  Another, while we were in a challenging pose, “If you are talking to yourself in your head right now, make sure you are saying something nice”.

At the end of the hot yoga portion, people take a bathroom and water break before a meditation portion, and I book it up to the house for a quick shower and to set up the lunch.  People are starving by the time they get to me, so I have learned to have nibbles out and at the ready in case I am still putting the finishing touches on the food.  I’ve made a completely different lunch every retreat.  I’m proud of that.  People are incredibly grateful for the food and I love spending the time getting to know this amazing community better.

There is always a little downtime after lunch, so I usually chat or start on the clean up.  Some people take a walk, some find a nook and read a book.  Before we all know it, it’s time for the second yoga class of the day.  Our tummies are gurgling a bit and we are all sleepy so it is to Jen’s immense credit that she can get us back in the studio and back in downward dog.  Before we know it, we are back in the flow – just hard enough to make it exciting but not so hard that we regret taking a second cookie.  It is an invigorating end to an amazing day.  I have cried at almost every one of these retreats and I am not a crier.  It is so incredible to take a day to yourself, to spend it with a dear friend, to do the work in yoga, to immerse yourself in an amazing community, to be surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, and to eat wonderful and healthy food (if I do say so myself).  At the end of it all, you wait for a ferry, book and flashlight in hand, and commute back home on the water.  Even the coming and going is magical.

Now that most of these people know me and many read my blog, they always want to know which dishes I’ve made are either on my blog or will be posted there soon.  I got many questions about the chocolate chip cookies of course.  People were also crazy for this winter slaw.  I’m not surprised.  I taught this slaw twice last week in classes.  It comes from our good friend Plenty and it totally changed my opinion about slaws.  Like many, I’m not a coleslaw fan because mayo is not my friend, but I haven’t ever really liked any slaw I have made or tried.  I’m in love with this one.  Two different types of cabbage, some buttery sweet nuts, sweet mango, and a bit of kick from a red chiles make this an intoxicating slaw.  There are also lots of herbs and a dressing you will want to make a double batch of and use for many different things.  I tweaked.  Cashews instead of macadamia nuts, no papaya (those things freak me out), more green cabbage, more herbs.  My recipe below reflects those changes.

As if the flavors and the color were not enough to recommend this slaw, I will tell you this.  It keeps well.  I can’t think of another salad or salad type thing that I would want to eat a day after, or even an hour after, it has been dressed.  But we munched on this one happily two days after I made it.  Even the nuts were still crunchy!  Finally, this is not a slaw you want to underdress.  I am usually very sensitive about too much dressing on my salads or salad type things, but if you don’t use enough dressing on this one, it’s a little hard to choke down.  That red cabbage needs a good soaking.

One Year Ago:  Simply Sweet Diamints and Spicy Pasta with Broccoli and Cauliflower
Two Years Ago:  White Bean Dip and Caramel Cake
Three Years Ago:  Guacamole

Sweet Winter Slaw
Adapted from Plenty
Serves 6-8

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
3 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. roasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
4 tbsp. canola oil

1 tbsp. butter
¾ cup raw cashews
2 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
½ a head Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
½ a head red cabbage, finely shredded
2 medium mangoes, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 fresh red chile, deseeded and finely chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

First, make the dressing.  Place all the ingredients, except the sesame oil and canola oil, in a small saucepan and reduce over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, or until thick and syrupy.  Remove from the heat.  Once cooled down, strain the sauce into a bowl and whisk in the oils.  Set aside.  (Dressing can be made up to one week in advance.  Store in the refrigerator.)

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the cashews and toast them, shaking the pan frequently until they start to brown.  Sprinkle on the sugar and stir constantly until the sugar is melted and starting to turn brown.  Scrape the mixture out onto a sheet of parchment paper and allow to cool and harden.  Chop coarsely.

Place the shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients, including the nuts.  Add the dressing and toss together.  Taste and add more salt if necessary.

A Slice of My Life – Week 4

January 29, 2012

This week started with a vomiting child, a husband out of town, and a to-do list a mile long for three cooking classes and a yoga retreat lunch.  There were times when I questioned whether I would be able to get it all done.  Never underestimate the power of hard work and determination.  Here are some scenes from this week.

I took advantage of a few quiet hours on Sunday to sort through my cookbooks.  The favorites got to stay in the kitchen and the rest went down to the basement.  This only about one third of my collection.  I counted 156.  Then I got two more.  (By the way, this is the light in my kitchen.  This is why I don’t take more pictures in there.)

After seriously tweaking my neck in yoga a couple of weeks ago, I have been spending a lot of time on this thing.  My physical therapist is amazing and I am getting better slowly.  She said I had the tightest neck she has ever worked on.  So I have that going for me.

I played parking space roulette and lost.  Doh!

Whenever Spencer and I are walking together, I instinctively put my hand by my side and he always takes it.  His hand is always warm, sometimes slightly sticky, and I will sob on the day that he says he doesn’t want to hold my hand anymore.

Lots and lots of tofu just waiting to get pan-fried and mixed together with shallots, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes for vegetarian Bahn Mi sandwiches for the yoga retreat.  I had three pans going to do the work and between a non-stick, stainless steel, and cast iron, the cast iron did the best job.

The makings of Spice Crispies – a new favorite snack.

The Bainbridge ferry pulling into the Seattle waterfront.  So beautiful and ghostly.  More on the retreat in my next post.

Spice Crispies

January 27, 2012

Sometimes when I am at my cooking maximum, I somehow find the energy to add one more thing.  I’m tapped, I’m tired, I’m starting to make stupid mistakes, and then I see something that sparks me – makes me perk up.  I somehow find time to squeeze in this one more thing even though that bit of time could be of more value in other ways.  And sometimes there is pay off, even though it may not seem that way at first.

What am I talking about?  Well, this has been quite a week for me and it’s not over yet.  I taught classes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and today I will be spending the entire day in the kitchen prepping lunch for tomorrow’s yoga retreat on Bainbridge Island.  Everything has to be done today because I take a 7:55am ferry over there tomorrow.  Normally, I spend a couple of days prepping but because of all the teaching, everything will be compressed into one day.  Did I mention that my husband has been out of town?  Yes, that too.  I’m getting through by literally taking one day at a time.  I can’t even think about the next project until I finish the current one.  Nothing that can’t be used that very day gets made or done.  Stay Focused Dana has been my mantra.

So yesterday, precisely 40 minutes before I had to leave to pick up my children, precisely 2 hours before my students started knocking on my door, with precisely 57 different dishes in the sink or scattered around the counter, I decided to make Spice Crispies.  The recipe caught my eye as I was making my favorite Chex Mix and suddenly, I was overtaken with the urge to create yet more dirty dishes and food.

Fast as lightning, I preheated the oven, gathered ingredients, poured, sautéed, stirred, scraped, baked, washed, wiped, and as I was cursing myself because now I was even more behind than I had been before, a most amazing smell started wafting from my oven.  I pulled the tray out, whisked it off to the dining room for a quick photo in the fading light, and took a taste.  Weird.  Interesting.  Not sure.  Waste of time?  Maybe.  And then off to finish out my evening, the Spice Crispies all but forgotten.

After the class and after the clean-up was over, I remembered that I had stashed the tray in our study and a miraculous thing happened while they cooled completely and set up.  These little clusters of cereal and spice had become something totally addictive and truly tasty.  Even the raisins, which had become hard little nuggets, kind of like what happens to them in oatmeal raisin cookies, had their own unique appeal.  I have a feeling that I am going to get a lot of questions about this little snack mix this weekend – it is intriguing.  I wish I had the time to come up with beautiful metaphors describing the unusual yet delicious flavors in this snack, but I have a task list a mile long for today.  Just trust me when I say that I really should be doing 100 other things rather than writing this post and yet, here I am doing just that.  Have a great weekend.

One Year AgoRoasted Tomato Salad with Croutons, Meyer Lemon Risotto Cakes
Two Years Ago:  Chickpea, Chard, and Couscous Soup, Soba Noodles with Crispy Tofu and Vegetables
Three Years Ago:  Orange Pound Cake

Spice Crispies
Adapted from Food & Wine
Makes about 4 cups

If you want to keep the raisins from getting totally crunchy, I imagine you could add them half way through the baking time. 

2 cups Rice Krispies or other puffed rice cereal (2 ounces)
¼ cup salted roasted cashews
¼ cup salted roasted peanuts
¼ cup wide coconut flakes
¼ cup raisins
3 tbsp. peanut oil
1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds (DT:  I used brown)
½ tsp. fennel seeds
½ tsp. cumin seeds
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
4 large fresh bay leaves (DT:  I used dried)
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
Juice of half a lemon
½ tsp. kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, toss the rice cereal with the cashews, peanuts, coconut flakes, and raisins.

In a small saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering.  Add the mustard seeds and cook over moderately high heat until they begin to pop, about 1 minute.  Add the fennel and cumin seeds, crushed red pepper, and bay leaves and toast, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minutes.  Add the corn syrup, lemon juice, and salt and bring to a boil.  Drizzle the hot syrup over the cereal over the cereal and nuts and toss with a spoon until evenly coated.

Spread the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the nuts are golden.  Let cool; discard the bay leaves.

(Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.)

Apple Cheddar Quick Bread

January 23, 2012

I just counted my cookbooks.  You see, we bought this table to go behind the couch in our great room (we have an open floor plan), and there is a shelf on the bottom of the table.  I thought it was perfect for my cookbook overflow.  It started with just a few books, and then a few more were added and so on and so on.  Before I knew it, the shelf was full and sagging alarmingly in the middle.  So I reorganized.  I pulled the most used and loved of all my books and placed them strategically around my kitchen and sent the rest to the basement – where they will still be loved and used and accessed easily.  So while I was up to my neck in cookbooks, I figured I would count.  Grand total: 156.

156 cookbooks makes me a bit of freak among the people I know.  It’s a crazy amount of cookbooks.  But ever since working at Book Larder, I have had conversations with people who own thousands of cookbooks.  One charming woman who I have chatted with at length owns over 1,000 baking books alone.  So owning 156 really just makes me a novice in the cookbook ownership department.  Or so I tell my husband.

Anyway, in addition to having recipes in all of these books, I also get food magazines.  And I read food blogs.  I get monthly recipes sent to my inbox from a favorite local bakery, and I also get a daily recipe from Chow.  It is recipe overload for sure.  Most of the time, it’s just too much to process but sometimes, my foggy brain fixates on something and dinner is born.

This happened last week just before the snow made getting around impossible.  Chow’s offering was Apple and Cheddar Quick Bread.  Sounded intriguing.  But in the body of the email they mentioned that it is delicious served with Celery Root Soup and that is what sold me.  The two together just sounded like dinner.  Not fussy but not boring.  Just good dinner.  Sometimes we need just good dinner, am I right?

I love savory quick breads.  I have several on this site that I will direct you to at the end of this post.  I love their ease, taste, texture, and I love how they turn soup and salad into something really special.  I like to make them when the soup is on the simpler side.  This one uses a new-to-me cheese – Irish Cheddar.  It is described as having Cheddar flavor but more of a Parmesan texture.  I would say that is pretty spot on.  Some of it is grated and melts into the bread.  Some of it is cubed so you get bites of actual cheese as well.  It’s pretty awesome.  As with the soup, the apple is there for sweetness but it isn’t identifiable as apple, just as yum.  Next time I’m doubling and putting one of these babies in the freezer.

Savory Quick Breads Previously on Dana Treat:  Quick Olive and Cheese Bread, Chile Cheese Gratin Sandwiches, Pull-Apart Cheesy Onion Bread (not really quick but savory and amazing)
One Year Ago:  Cowboy Cookies
Two Years Ago:  Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks
Three Years Ago:  Lemon Bars

Apple and Cheddar Quick Bread
Adapted from Chow
Makes one 9×5-inch loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
½ teaspoon ground sage
¾ cup medium-dice Irish cheddar cheese, such as Dubliner (about 3 ounces)
¾ cup grated Irish cheddar cheese, such as Dubliner (about 1½ ounces), grated on the large holes of a box grater
3 large eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (½ stick), melted, plus more for coating the pan
1 ½ cups grated Granny Smith apples (about 2 medium), grated on the large holes of a box grater

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Generously coat a metal 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and sage together in a large bowl until aerated and any large lumps are broken up. Add the diced and shredded cheese and toss until the pieces are separated and evenly coated with the flour mixture; set aside.

Place the eggs, milk, and melted butter in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the apples and stir until combined. Add the egg mixture to the flour-cheese mixture and stir until the flour is just incorporated, being careful not to overmix (a few streaks of flour are OK). The batter will be very thick.

Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan, pushing it into the corners and smoothing the top. Bake until the bread is golden brown all over and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (test several spots because you may hit a pocket of cheese), about 45 to 50 minutes.  (DT:  Do make sure the top of the bread is brown.  I pulled mind when it was a bit pale but the toothpick came out clean.  It was still a little doughy in the center.)

Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the bread and turn it out onto the rack. Let it cool for at least 30 minutes more before slicing.

My Life This Week – Week 3

January 21, 2012

So, I have to ask.  Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?  If you did, how are you coming along with those resolutions?

I know people who make them every year and people who resolutely refuse to make them.  I understand both sides of that argument.  I have one resolution that I make every single year (drink more water) and sometimes that is the only one.  This year I have several.  I’ve long been saying I want to tackle croissants and puff pastry and this! is! the! year!  On the non-food related front, there are several other things I want to work toward in 2012.  We recently had dinner with my amazing friend Jen and her amazing husband and she asked us for our word for 2012.  This is a very Jen request.  She sets a word for herself each year and while my brain doesn’t necessarily work that way, I found it an interesting exercise.  Without thinking and just allowing the word to come forth, my word was “push”.  This is the year to push myself in many different ways.  It’s not exactly like I’m a slacker, my life is very full and busy and I do a lot, but there are areas where I need to push myself forward.

One of these things is taking more photos and not necessarily of food.  We are not the parents that take a million photos of our kids.  But now I’m starting to think we don’t take enough of them.  So, more photos of them, more photos of my life.  I know many people who do weekly posts with photos (Tracy is one of my favorites) and I resolve to start this new feature every Friday, 3 weeks late.  I’ve got a Flickr account and will just get in the habit of having my camera around more and also, finally, upgrading to a new iPhone (mine is 3½ years old) and maybe – just maybe – will start using Instagram.  We shall see.  You might find these Friday posts unbearably boring and self-serving in which case, I apologize.  Don’t come ’round here on Fridays.

Snow!  If you have been on Twitter or Facebook, you are no doubt really tired of hearing us talk about Snowmageddon or Snowpocalypse 2012 so I will just keep it at Snow!

We finally took this guy down on Sunday along with the lit-up reindeer and the lit-up snowflakes lining our walk way.

My kids’ dentist office is genius.  Twice a year they do costume day and my kids want to go the dentist.  Like can’t wait.  The look on people’s faces while we walked around afterward was priceless.  Lots of “Look who has come to save the day” comments too.

I would have been lost without this baby this week.

Spencer has gone from scribbles to actual drawings like this lovely rainbow.  And he has just started writing his name.  And he is obsessed with tape so we have artwork taped up all over our house.

A recipe for this Apple Cheddar Bread (recipe coming soon!) led me to a most delicious Celery Root Soup.


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