Category: Yoga Retreat Food

Spicy Squash Salad

October 28, 2010

Deb beat me to it.  I’ve been wanting to tell you about this amazing salad ever since I made it for the yoga retreat a few weeks ago.  But there were Buckeyes to mention and photos of boys in pumpkin patches that I needed to share.  There was also a weekend of being whisked off to New York City and amazing food to be eaten and then I opted to write about cupcakes before salad.  Silly me.

In case you don’t read Smitten Kitchen (you should) or you just really want to know more about this terrific salad, I’m still going to post about it.  When I first looked at the recipe, I figured it must be a home run.  I love all the components separately – winter squash, Le Puy lentils, goat cheese, arugula – but I had never had them all together.  I figured if I loved them individually, I’d love them collectively.  Then, as I was pulling the salad together, doubts started to creep in.  Do these things really go together?  Is this a salad or a side dish?  Is the small amount of olive oil I used to roast the squash really going to make enough of a dressing?  Is anyone going to eat this?

Answers: Yes, doesn’t matter, yes, and yes until the bowl is empty.  This salad was the first to go.  It surprised me.  On a day where I made lots of good food, I took a small amount thinking I just needed to taste it so that I could write about it.  Then I took another taste.  Then I pushed aside another salad to make more room for this one.  Aside from the Buckeyes, I got more comments about this salad than any other dish I made that day.

Just before I left for New York, a very cool opportunity presented itself.  A lovely woman, fellow yogi and food lover, asked me to prepare some salads for an advisory committee that she heads.  She is interested in healthy food and helping to influence what that means in our country.  Of course this is near and dear to my heart so I said yes.  She had requests.  My Israeli couscous salad and the squash salad.  She requested two other salads as well.  (And 140 Buckeyes but that is another story.)  Again the squash got the most comments of the day.

One Year Ago:  Roasted Pear Galette with Chevre and Pomegranates

Spiced Squash, Lentil, and Goat Cheese Salad
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Serves 6-8

¾ cup French green lentils
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
½ tsp. kosher salt
4 cups baby arugula
1 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Place lentils in a small bowl.  Cover with cold water and let soak 10 minutes.  Drain.

Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  Drain again.

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Place squash on a baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika, and salt.  Roast 20 minutes.  Turn squash over.  Roast until tender, about 10 minutes.  Cool.

Combine lentils, squash, and oil from baking sheet with arugula, half of goat cheese, mint, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle remaining goat cheese over.

(My make-ahead tips are as follows.  I made the squash and the lentils one day ahead and stored them separately.  I made sure they came to room temperature before mixing everything together I also chopped the mint the day before and stored it wrapped in a paper towel and then a ziploc bag.)


October 20, 2010

One of the most wonderful things about our truly amazing babysitter Erika, is the friends she has brought into our lives.  Basically every single person who has every babysat for my kids is a friend of Erika’s.  Catherine is our other regular and our boys love her as much as Randy and I do.  She is a southern girl making a fulfilling life for herself in Seattle.

Catherine brings her sweet spirit, cute accent, and beautiful smile to our house about every other Friday for a date night.  She is a very enthusiastic eater of my food so I love having little things hidden away for her in the refrigerator or in the cookie jar.  When Catherine turned 30 last fall, she asked me to cater a dinner for her.  I was very touched that she asked and had a lot of fun deciding on a menu.  Graham loved sharing his house with 20 beautiful women dressed in their best party clothes.  After the holidays, Catherine brought me two huge bags of pecans from her parents’ tree.  Yes, we love her.

I made these crack-like concoctions the other day for our yoga retreat and, since Catherine babysat on Friday night, I saved her a few.  She walked in and really, before saying hello to me or the boys said with wide eyes, “Are those Buckeyes?”  A Southern girl who knows her treats.

Being an almost lifelong Pacific Northwesterner, I had never heard of Buckeyes.  My loss!  These over-the-top treats are a mixture of cream cheese, graham crackers, butter, and peanut butter dipped in chocolate.  It may not surprise you to know that I got the recipe from the new Baked cookbook.  It may also not surprise you to know that the other treat I made for the retreat also came from that cookbook.  And if neither of those things surprise you, then you probably know that I want to make every single thing in that book, like, tomorrow.  I think it may even surpass the first one in terms of decadence and all around yuminess.

One Year Ago: Fettucine with Oil-Cured Olives, Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Two Years Ago: Gnocchi with Winter Squash and Seared Radicchio

Baked Explorations
Makes 36 to 42 buckeyes

¼ cup cream cheese, softened
1½ cups peanut butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 9 full graham crackers)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
10 tbsp. (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
12 ounces good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Make the candy
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until combined.  Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat on medium speed for 10 seconds.  Add the confectioners’ sugar and butter.  Beat at low speed for 20 seconds to prevent the sugar from spilling over, then gradually increase the speed until the mixture is completely combined.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again.  The mixture will feel slightly dry.  Set the peanut butter filling aside while you melt the chocolate.

In the top of a double boiler set over hot water, melt the chocolate, stirring frequently until it is completely smooth.  Pour the chocolate into a small, deep bowl.  Let cool to tepid (about 100ºF, body temperature) while you shape the peanut butter centers.

Assemble the Buckeyes
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Scoop out slightly more than 1 tablespoon’s worth of filling and use your hands to form it into a ball.  Place the ball on the prepared sheet pan and repeat the process until all the filling has been shaped.  The balls can sit fairly close to each other, just make sure they are not touching.

One by one, using a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate.  Roll the ball around from side to side to cover almost the entire peanut butter center, leaving a small amount uncovered.  Manipulate the buckeye so that the dripping chocolate covers the holes made by the fork.  Let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl and return each chocolate-covered buckeye to the pan.  Refrigerate the entire sheet pan for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate before serving.

(Buckeyes will keep for up to 3 days, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.)

The $1 Olive

October 17, 2010

I recently had a very bad dining experience but fortunately something good came out of it.  A very close friend who is going through a rough patch needed a night out and she chose Dinette.  It is a restaurant that has been around for quite a while but it is a place that she had never tried.  Dinette is adorable and their focus is toasts.  They come in thick and chewy varieties and thin and crispy varieties.  Each type has about four different topping choices.  There are also some lovely salads and about five entrées on the menu.

The food we ate was very good.  There were plenty of interesting vegetarian choices.  The prices were very fair.  The vibe in the place was very sweet.  The service was, in a word, terrible.  I won’t go on and on about the multitude of ways our server was rude but I do have to tell you about the olive.

My friend ordered their martini and asked for extra olives which is something she always does and I would do too if I drank martinis.  The waitress snarkily told her that she would have to charge for extra olives because they were stuffed with blue cheese.  It was at that point, after several rude things had already happened, that I would have gotten up and walked out.  But my friend was fragile and getting back in the car in search of another place seemed like a bit much.  The waitress returned with the martini and, wait for it, two olives.  We checked the menu.  The cocktail description said the martini was served with Gorgonzola stuffed olives.  Plural.  How exactly is a total of two extra?

The evening went on.  She continued to be rude.  We did our best to ignore her and talk and enjoy our food.  When she brought the bill, I nearly fell out of my chair.  There was a $1 charge for the extra olive.  Now, I am a good tipper.  I start at 20% and will leave more for very good service.  I always tip on the full amount of the bill, regardless of whether I am using a coupon or some kind of discount.  I did not tip this woman.  I wrote on the back of the receipt (because she had disappeared) that by choosing to charge us $1 for one freaking olive, she had lost a $20 tip.  I came home, tweeted about it, put it up on Facebook, and am now telling you.  I sent the owner of the restaurant an email telling her not just about the olive, but about how rudely we were treated.  I never heard a word.  It is surprising to me, in this day and age not of “they told two friends and so on and so on” but “they told two friends who tweeted it and posted about it on Facebook and wrote a long blog post about it”, that there would be silence.

But!  The good news!  Toasts!  We ordered two.  Each was essentially a very large slice of bread cut into four manageable sized pieces.  One was topped with some kind of oozy cheese, frisée and an unfortunate amount of truffle oil which completely overpowered the toast.  The other was topped with carmelized onions, thin slices of sautéed zucchini and goat cheese.  This was the kind of thing which you finish and immediately want another piece.  Like forget the salad, entrée and dessert – just give me more of those toasts.

There were so many things right with this beauty starting with the bread.  It was a nice thick slice and toasted just enough to make it interesting without hurting your teeth or scratching the roof of your mouth.  The bread was very dense and hearty with just the slightest tang.  A few days later, I happened upon a bread in the grocery store that I thought might be the one they used.  It was made by the Essential Baking Company here in Seattle and I bought that loaf with the idea for our dinner that night now firmly decided.  I had zucchini and onions and I decided to swap out the goat cheese for a saltier Pecorino Romano.

I had some Roasted Red Pepper Pesto in my refrigerator from dinner the previous night and I also had some fresh baby artichokes because I can never resist them when I see them at the farmers’ market.  (We have two artichoke seasons here in the Northwest – spring and fall.)  I decided to braise the hearts in shallots and white wine and purée them a bit in my food processor.  Toast #1 was the zucchini rendition and toast #2 was slathered with the pesto and then the artichokes and sprinkled with fresh thyme.  Both were so good, I decided to make them as my sandwich offering at Saturday’s yoga retreat with my friend Jen.  People really loved them, especially the artichoke one.  Maybe I’ll sell my idea to Dinette and charge them a dollar.

Some tips.  Cut your bread about an inch thick – this is not a crostini.  Make sure you drizzle it with olive oil to coat the surface – you want to keep the bread relatively soft.  For this reason, you will also want to stay near the oven so they don’t overbake.  Because you are using a thick piece of bread, the toppings should be generous.  If you don’t have access to fresh artichokes or don’t want to spend the time breaking them down, you can certainly either use frozen ones, cooked the same way as described, or you can use jarred marinated hearts.  I would rinse them well (I don’t appreciate that pickle-y flavor here) and just purée them.

One Year Ago:  Holly B’s Cappucino Bars
Two Years Ago:  Soba Noodles with Tofu and Bok Choy

Toast with Caramelized Onions and Zucchini

Inspired by Dinette
Serves 2

Whenever I need to caramelize onions for something, I make extra.  It takes no extra effort, they keep well, and are delicious in so many things.

1 large 1-inch thick whole wheat sourdough bread
Olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. good quality balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Place the slice of bread on a baking sheet and drizzle liberally with olive oil.  Put the sheet in the oven and bake until the surface is slightly crisp, but there is still quite a bit of give when you push down on it, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over medium heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the onions and a large pinch of salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and starting to become translucent, about 10 minutes.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are very fragrant and a deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  (If have a cast iron skillet, use it.  I love how evenly and quickly the onions caramelize in mine.  You can make these up to 5 days ahead.  Once cool, cover and refrigerate.)

Heat another sauté pan over medium heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom, then add the zucchini slices and a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is cooked through and browning in places, about 7 to 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat, then pour in the balsamic vinegar, stirring to coat the zucchini slices.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary, keeping in mind that Pecorino Romano is a salty cheese.

To assemble, lay the caramelized onions over the toasted bread, then shingle the zucchini slices on top.  Sprinkle the whole toast with the cheese and return it to the oven to melt the cheese slightly, 5 to 7 minutes.  Cut into four pieces.

Toast with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto and Artichokes
Dana Treat Original
Serves 2

You will definitely have more pesto than you need for this recipe and might have more artichoke purée than you need – both of which are wonderful problems to have.

1 large 1-inch thick whole wheat sourdough bread
1 large shallot, diced
4 baby artichokes
1 lemon
½ cup of white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Roasted Red Pepper Pesto (recipe follows)
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

Make the pesto.  Prepare the bread as described in the recipe above.

Fill a small bowl with cold water.  Trim off the top ¼ of the artichokes.  Tear off and discard most of the outer leaves.  Trim the base and stem so that they are flush with the leaves and then slice each heart in half.  Since they are babies, there is no choke to remove.  Place the halves in the lemon water and repeat with the remaining artichokes.

Heat a sauté pan with a lid over medium heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom, and add the shallots and a pinch of salt.  Cook until just starting to brown, about 5 minutes, then add the artichoke hearts.  Give them a good stir then pour in the wine.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pan.  Cook until the hearts are fork tender, about 7 minutes, adding more wine if the pan becomes too dry.  On the other hand, if there is a lot of liquid left after the hearts are tender, remove the lid and continue cooking until most of the wine has evaporated.  You don’t want them bone dry.

Scrape the mixture into a food processor, add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and pulse about 7 times, just enough to create a speadable consistency, but not too uniform.  Chunks are fine.  If the mixture seems too dry, add a bit of olive oil.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

To assemble, spread a generous portion of Roasted Red Pepper Pesto over the surface of the toast.  Dollop a 1-inch thick line of the artichokes down the center width-wise.  Sprinkle the whole toast with fresh thyme and cut into four pieces.

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

1 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, well drained
½ cup walnuts
1 large garlic clove, chopped
¼ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (you can also use Parmesan)

Place the peppers, walnuts, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Pulse the mixture until chopped.  With the machine running, pour the olive oil through the feed tube and process until the mixture is fairly uniform but with some small chunks.  Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the cheese by hand.

Impulse Buys

August 5, 2010

I’m a careful Costco shopper.  Did you know Costco started in Seattle?  We’ve been members for as long as I can remember.  We go about every other month and I buy the same things over and over.  Paper towels, toilet paper, canned tomatoes, chickpeas, garbage bags, olive oil, string cheese, Diet Pepsi, beer, wine.  Occasionally I buy Ziploc bags, dish washing detergent, kids vitamins, ibuprofen, butter, Dijon mustard, dried pasta, some kind of cookbook, and nuts.  I am very very happy to tell you that I no longer need to buy diapers or wipes.  Or formula.  Hallelujah.

My point here is that I don’t get sucked in.  I know what I need and what I have room for.  I see people’s carts and wonder “where are these people putting all this stuff?”.  I am lucky in that I have plenty of room for impulse purchases, but I hate to have things on hand that I know I won’t use.  So there is not a lot of impulse shopping at Costco.

Once in a great while, I see something and I pounce without thinking too carefully.  I get sucked in by cheap pretzels and quinoa.  About a year ago, I found a 5 pound bag of Israeli couscous and very happily put it in my cart.  I love the stuff and it is not always that easy to find in regular grocery stores.  That 5 pound bag has been mocking me from the basement storage room.  Yes, thankfully I have a basement storage room for things like giant bags of Israeli couscous, but still.  What I have realized is that, while I love Israeli couscous, it’s not something I use all that often.

In my searches for a salad for the summer yoga retreat, I was thrilled to remember this one tucked away in one of my notebooks.  The flavors sounded wonderful, all things that I love, and it uses a lot of Israeli couscous.  Because I knew there were going to be 18 of us, I doubled the recipe.  The salad was a hit and partly because I loved it and partly because I still had lots of couscous, I made another giant portion of it to bring to a block party.  I even held back some of it so I could serve it as a side dish at a dinner party the night after the block party.   And yes, I still have couscous in that bag.  A lot of it.

Israeli Couscous previously on Dana Treat: Couscous and Mograbiah with Oven-Dried Tomatoes
One Year Ago: Grilled Potato Slices with Salt and Vinegar

Israeli Couscous with Olives and Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Gourmet
Serves 6-8

For roasted tomatoes and dressing
2 pints red grape or cherry tomatoes (1½ pounds)
3 large garlic cloves, left unpeeled
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
¼ cup warm water
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For couscous
2½ cups vegetable broth
2 cups Israeli couscous
½ cup Kalamata olives, pits removed and sliced in half
½ cup basil, thinly sliced
¼ cup parsley, chopped

Roast tomatoes and make dressing
Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Place tomatoes and garlic, still in its peel on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a healthy pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Bake in the oven until the tomatoes are quite soft and starting to brown, about 20 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool slightly.

Peel garlic and purée with oil, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and ½ cup roasted tomatoes in a blender until dressing is very smooth.  Set aside.

Make couscous
Bring broth to a boil in a large heavy saucepan and stir in couscous.  Simmer for about 3 minutes then cover pan and remove from the heat.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Spread couscous in 1 layer on a baking sheet and cool 15 minutes.

Transfer couscous to a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients, dressing, roasted tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste.  You may not need all the dressing so hold a bit back.

(DT: I found it best mix this salad with my hands so the tomatoes don’t get too squished.  You can make the couscous and dressing a day ahead and store them separately.  The couscous will stick together but add some of the dressing and work it with your hands before adding the rest of the ingredients.)

Martha Kind of Let Me Down

August 2, 2010

You know Martha, right?  Martha Stewart that is.  She that is everything perfect.  She who creates recipes which do not fail.  (Or she who hires people who create recipes which do not fail.)  Last weekend I had a recipe-didn’t-turn-out-as-well-as-I-wanted-it-to which, in Martha’s world, is a fail.  Let me explain.

As I have mentioned, oh about 100 times, I have a bazillion cookbooks.  Some I use more than others.  Some I would take to a desert island with me.  When I need appetizer inspiration, I turn to Martha’s Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook.  The pictures in this book are stunning and unlike many cookbooks, there is a photo of just about every recipe.  Truth be told, many of the recipes are pretty fussy and require last minute cooking or assembling which, in my mind, does not a good appetizer make.  But I do so love this book.

Last weekend my lovely friend Jen held her summer yoga retreat.  (She does one a quarter.)  I created a summery menu that included gazpacho with four different topping choices, a potato tortilla with Romesco sauce, an Israeli couscous salad, a quinoa and corn salad, and a simple green salad with shavings of red onion and kohlrabi.  I always like to have something on the tables where everyone will be sitting in case I am not 100% ready for people to go through the food line.  Last time I made this super popular dip and this time I made bread sticks which could be dipped in a lemon/thyme butter.

Good idea, right?  They look good, right?  It goes with the menu, right?  Bread sticks are supposed to be crunchy, right?  These weren’t.  I made them about five days before the retreat and they weren’t crunchy out of the oven.  They certainly weren’t crunchy after a rest in the freezer.  Right before I served them, I gave them another heat through in the oven and that kind of did the trick but they were still a little more bread-like than I wanted.

Why am I sharing the recipe?  They are easy and fun to make – a great project to do with kids.  The recipe gives you a large yield and you can freeze them (just be sure to bring them back to life in the oven), and the flavor was really good.  Because they aren’t too snappy or crunchy, they can survive a dip into softened butter and not break…and, hey, well, I guess Martha is all right after all.

By the way, if you live in the Seattle area and want to experience a day of amazing yoga and my food for lunch, Jen will be hosting another yoga retreat on October 16th.  Check out her site for details and to sign up.

One Year Ago: Smoky Muhammara Dip
Two Years Ago: Pasta with Cauliflower, Peppers, and Walnut Pesto

Yeast Bread Sticks
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook
Makes about 5 dozen

1 ¼-ounce package active dry yeast (2 teaspoons)
2 cups warm water
1½ tbsp. honey
5 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for brushing
5¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tsp. kosher salt

In a medium bowl, combine the yeast and ¼ cup of the water.  Set aside to proof for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining 1¾ cups water with the honey and the olive oil.  Stir the honey mixture into the yeast.  Set aside.  Brush the inside of a large bowl with olive oil.  Set aside.

In another large bowl, combine the flour, Parmesan, and salt.  Pour the wet yeast mixture over the dry flour mixture.  Using your hands, combine until the flour mixture is completely incorporated; the dough will be sticky.

Transfer the wet mixture to a lightly floured board.  Knead the dough until soft and elastic, about 5 minutes.  (DT: I used the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid for the kneading.)  Transfer the dough to the reserved large bowl, brush the top of the dough with olive oil, and cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.

Heat the oven to 425ºF.  Divide the dough evenly into 4 batches.  Wrap 3 batches in plastic wrap and set aside.  Cut the remaining batch into 16 pieces.  Using your fingers, roll one piece at a time on a lightly floured surface into 16-inch-long sticks.  Transfer the sticks to 2 baking sheets, placing them about 1 inch apart.  Cover with plastic wrap, set aside in a warm place, and let proof for 30 minutes.  Repeat with another batch of dough and 2 more sheet pans.  While the second batch is proofing, proceed with the first batch.

Just before baking, brush each stick with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Bake, rotating the sheets once, until lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.  The bread sticks can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.

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