Saturday, August 3, 2013

Veggie Burgers that Hold Their Shape AND have Flavor

I've been searching for a veggie burger recipe where the burgers would both hold their shape and have some flavor. These fit the bill!

  • 1 cup of dried chick peas, soaked overnight in 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • To taste:
    • Chiplote powder
    • Chili powder
    • Garlic powder
    • Salt
    • Black Pepper
    • Oregano

  • Drain chick peas
  • Pulse in blender until coarsely chopped
  • Add onion and spices
  • Pulse till well mixed
  • Mixture should hold together when formed into a ball
  • Don't don't want it too soft or it will fall apart when cooking!
  • Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, form into uniform patties. This mixture makes @7-8 patties this size.
  • Turn patties onto parchment on a plate and refridgerate until firm. I kept mine in the fridge overnight. 
  • To cook, put 3-4 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Heat the oil. 
  • Add patties, with enough space between them that you can flip them. 
  • Cook 2-3 minutes per side, till the sides get golden brown and slightly crispy.
  • When both sides are cooked, transfer to a baking dish and bake in the oven for another 7-9 minutes until firm and centers are cooked. 

These burgers were very tasty with fresh tomato, lettuce and ketchup. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Connecticut Strawberry Ice Cream

24 hours - farm to freezer.


  • 2 quarts of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, quartered
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
  • 2 pints heavy cream


  • Macerate strawberries in 1/2 cup of sugar until well juiced.
  • Add vanilla to strawberries
  • Mash or blend strawberry mixture. I used a hand immersion blender.
  • Add heavy cream and the rest of the sugar. 
  • Mix well. 
  • Add to ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's directions. 
  • When ice cream has reached the desired firmness, transfer to a freezer container. 
  • Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap into the mixture to work out any air bubbles.
  • Put in freezer until ice cream is well set. 
  • Homemade ice cream is even better on the second day, when the flavors have set!
  • Scoop into bowls and serve. 

Yellow Curry & Lemongrass Tofu

This is pretty spicy, but adding some lemon juice and honey while cooking really rounded out the flavor.

  • 1 package extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cubed
  • 1 small jicama, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 small red pepper, diced
  • 1 pound bok choy - firm ends diced and leaves chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and minced
  • 1 -2 teaspoons yellow curry paste
  • 11 oz coconut water (one can)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lemongrass
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • sea salt
  • First, make a marinade for the tofu cubes. In a bowl, combine yellow curry paste, coconut water, dried lemongrass, garlic powder, soy sauce and sea salt to taste. The marinade will be very spicy... so add the yellow curry in small amounts and adjust to taste. Mix well. 
  • Add tofu cubes to the bowl, covering completely with the marinade. 
  • Set aside.
  • In a large saute pan, add olive oil and diced red pepper. Saute over high heat. 
  • As red pepper begins to cook, add carrots, jicama and the firm ends of the bok choy.
  • Saute the firm vegetables until all begin to cook.
  • Reduce to medium heat and add some of the marinade liquid to the pan.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the tofu from the marinade, and add to the vegetable mixture.
  • Gradually add more and more of the marinade to the saute pan, gently folding in the tofu and vegetables.
  • As the liquid heats up, add the chopped leaves of the bok choy and the cilantro.
  • Add lemon juice and honey
  • Fold all ingredients together
  • Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the greens are cooked.
  • Serve with your choice of rice

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Chick Pea Crusted Baked Tofu

Last week, I tried a second version of veggie burgers, using canned chick peas, onions, egg and a host of garlic and oregano spices. The flavor was wonderful, but like my prior attempt at veggie "burgers", the texture just wasn't there and the mixture wouldn't hold a shape.

So, today, I tried something different. I crumbled the remaining chick pea mix onto a cookie sheet and lightly toasted it into a breadcrumb-like texture.

Then, I drained and sliced some firm tofu, bathed it in egg and dipped it into the chickpea crumbs.
Next, I baked it on a cookie sheet at 475 for 35 minutes, flipping it once.

Here's lunch today:

Chick Pea crusted Baked Tofu, roasted beets and kale chips.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Easy Baked Plums for Breakfast... or Dessert

This easy dish can be breakfast or dessert...depending on how you pair it.


2 Fresh plums, halved, pits removed
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp honey

  • Heat the oven to 475 F.
  • Halve the plums and remove pits.
  • Place plums skin-side down on baking dish.
  • In the center of each plum half, put 1/4 tbsp of the butter and a dab of honey
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon
  • Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, until plums are soft but skins still intact.

At breakfast, serve with vanilla yogurt and granola garnish.
For dessert, serve with vanilla ice cream. 

Either way, YUM. 

Making Bread: Baguettes

All bread recipes should start with the following caveat: "It's not as hard as it seems, it just takes some planning."

Today in the Andrews' kitchen, another adventure in bread-making is underway. I'm experimenting with baguettes, following the CIA recipe but changing up the proportions of bread flour and whole wheat flour. In fact, I used 100% whole wheat flour in the poolish (that's the pre-ferment that I started last night) instead of bread flour. We'll see what happens.

Here's the poolish recipe, in weight as per CIA instructions:

156 grams whole wheat flour
156 grams water, 55 degrees F
.3 grams yeast

  • Mix by hand until combined. There will be little lumps.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Then remove and let stand at room temperature for 12 - 18 hours before using.
  • The poolish with ferment and rise, and there will be bubbles on it. 

Dough Recipe:

269 grams water, 85 degrees F
476 grams flour (I used about half whole wheat, and half bread flour)
3 grams yeast
14 grams salt
312 grams poolish

Mixing the Dough

  • Put the water in the bowl of your mixer and add the poolish.
  • Mix on low speed for about 2 minutes to break down the poolish.
  • Combined the flour, yeast and salt, and add to the poolish.
  • Mix the dough for 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl and flip the dough to combine thoroughly.
  • The dough should be sticky and hold together in a ball.
  • Place the dough in a large lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

First Proof
  • Allow to rest and ferment in a warm place for 45- 60 minutes until dough springs back halfway when touched lightly.
  • Place dough on lightly floured board and fold it into thirds.
  • Place back in bowl, covered for 30 minutes.
Second Proof
  • Line a baking tray with cloth napkin or kitchen towel.
  • Flour the towel.
  • Place the dough on lightly floured board and divide it into four 6 oz pieces.
  • Shape each piece into 8 inch oblong
  • Place the loaves seam-side down on the floured towels, cover with cloth
  • Allow to rest and ferment in a warm place for 45-60 minutes until dough springs back halfway when touched lightly
  • 20 minutes before the end of second proofing, pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  • 10 minutes before baking, place a tray with 3 cups of warm water below the baking area of the oven to help produce steam 

  • Place the loaves lengthwise on a baking tray lined with parchment.
  • Keep the seam on the bottom.
  • Spray the top and sides of each loaf lightly with water
  • Let sit for 5 minutes, then score the top of each loaf with a sharp razor 
  • Spray loaves lightly again. This will help add steam and allow the loaves to expand.
  • Transfer loaves to the oven and immediately reduce temperature to 475 degrees F.
  • Bake for 12 minutes
  • Rotate loaves in the oven and remove the steam tray.
  • Bake for 8-10 more minutes more.
  • If at the end of the baking, the crust isn't thick enough, turn the oven off and leave the bread in the oven with the door cracked for 4-6 minutes more.
  • Remove from oven and place on cooling rack

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Variations on a Theme: Peanut Butter Quinoa Muffins

The other day, my friend Morgan posted this wonderful recipe for Peanut Butter Banana Quinoa Muffins on her blog "Peaches, Please." Sounds great, right? I thought so, too.

Today, I decided to make these at home, except (you see what's coming, don't you?)...

Yes, I had no bananas.  Sorry. I warned you.

Meanwhile back at the point....I had to improvise. So, with apologies to Morgan, here's my version:


1 cup Quinoa, uncooked
2 cups water
2 cups flour (about 1/3 of total amount as whole wheat)
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Walnuts, chopped
8 oz. applesauce
1/4 cup Peanut Butter
1 large Egg
1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Honey
1/2 cup fat free milk


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Prepare your muffin tins. I use a baking spray.
  • Cook quinoa as per directions on the package. The brand I use needs 2 cups of water to cook one cup of uncooked quinoa.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, prepare your dry ingredients: 
  • Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and walnuts. Set aside. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients:
  • Applesauce, peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, honey, and milk. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer. 
  • When quinoa is done, let cool and add to the wet ingredients. 
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix till combined. 
  • Scoop into muffin tins.
  • Bake 25 - 30 minutes.
  • When the muffins have finished cooking, cool in the times for 5-10 minutes, then transfer out of tins to wire rack to cool completely. 

Morgan - thanks for the inspiration! These are delicious!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Artisan Bread at the Culinary Institute of America

For Christmas, my husband gave me the gift of a class at the Culinary Institute of America, which has a campus about 40 minutes away in Hyde Park, NY. The "Artisan Bread at Home" class was held on a cold, rainy Saturday - a perfect day to be in a baking kitchen. 

Everybody wears a toque, no matter how stupid you look in hats. Chef's rules. 

Chef Temme explaining the properties and percentages for making poolish.  

Learning about yeast structures with a bread flour "chalkboard."

Sourdough loaves ready for second proof.

Chef removes sourdough loaves from the steam injection oven. 

Finished sourdough on the cooling racks. 

Enriched sweet bread almond frangipane filled coffee cake, ready for baking.

Finished ciabatta on the cooling racks.

Monsterous rolling pins.

A good day's work...and the text book.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What Do I Do with 2 Pounds of Lobster?

Every year for my birthday, my dad gives me a gift certificate to a fishery in Maine, Quality Fresh Seafood, that overnights fresh fish. Lobster, crab, salmon - you can even get a complete clambake delivered. How lucky am I? 

I’ve had a 2 pound package of lobster meat sitting in my freezer for a few months, until I had some time to figure out what to do with it. Today, I made Ina Garten’s Lobster Mac and Cheese recipe (which I’m not going to recount here. 

The only changes I made were to use whole wheat flour and pasta instead of white. The end result? This was a good way to use frozen lobster - warm and comforting - but not my favorite treatment of lobster.

(My all-time favorite is this Curried Lobster, adapted from "An Embarrassment of Mangoes"which I shared last September, which works best with fresh lobster meat...and which I'm looking forward to making with CSA ingredients this summer!)

Fresh bread crumbs

Mixing the pasta into the cheese mixture

2 pounds of lobster meat

Ready to go into the oven

A bowlful of the final result

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Blue Frog Pasta

As you may remember, I spent 16 weeks in Shanghai, China in 2012. I had the good fortune to stay in a very nice hotel while there, but honestly, hotel living leaves much to be desired in comparison to home. That said, there are three things I miss about my life in Shanghai.

  • The expansive and luxurious bathroom in my hotel room. The hotel site describes the bathroom as “A marble-clad bathroom with glass-enclosed bath and separate shower.” This does not begin to do justice to the glory that is the Kerry Hotel showers.
  • Arriving back in my hotel room at night and having my laundry clean, beautifully folded in a wicker basket with lavender sachets tucked in among the unmentionables. Everything you’ve heard about chinese laundry is true. The quality is unparalleled. I’ve yet to have pants ironed so well anywhere else in the world.
  • Roasted Pumpkin Pasta at the Blue Frog.

Blue Frog is a chain of restaurants in China that hosts a varied east-west menu, and more importantly, stays open past 10 pm. The entire city of Shanghai turns off the lights, quite literally, at 10. Restaurants and bars put the chairs ontop the tables and turn off the lights. This was an issue for our team because most nights we worked until at least 10, maybe later. 

The Blue Frog, though, not only stayed open late but more importantly: delivered. Jokes about chinese take-out aside, finding a restaurant that delivered and would take credit cards and had a menu varied enough to suit our team was a coup. And so, without further ado, here is my interpretation of Blue Frog Roasted Pumpkin Pasta, made with no pumpkin whatsoever.


4 cups cubed, butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups cooked, drained whole wheat pasta (rotini or penne)
½ cup pine nuts
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp pesto
sea salt
ground black pepper
grated parmesan cheese to taste

  • Heat oven to 375.
  • Toss the butternut squash with the olive oil, sea salt and ground black pepper
  • Spread on a cookie sheet and roast in heated oven for 45 – 60 minutes till done and slightly brown at edges.
  • While squash is roasting, boil large pot of water and cook pasta as per directions on package.
  • When finished, drain well and transfer to large mixing bowl.
  • While pasta is warm, toss with lemon juice, pesto and pine nuts. Let stand.
  • When squash is finished roasting, remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  • Then, add to pasta and toss well.
  • Serve immediately, garnishing with parmesan cheese to taste. 

Roasted Butternut Squash

Pasta tossed with Pesto, Lemon Juice and Pine Nuts

The finished pasta! 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chopped: A Guilty Pleasure

Ok, so to start off, we've had a challenging spring. Bruce broke his ankle on a double black diamond slope at the top of Stratton Mountain on day 3 of a 4 day ski trip. Thus ended the ski season, and the vacation.

Then, I had abdominal surgery, taking me out of commission for several weeks, and leaving both of us impaired and housebound.  We're on the flip side now, and life should start to return to some semblance of normal within the next two weeks.

What does all this have to do with Epicurean Dimensions? On the surface, not much. We've been eating well, due to the freezer full of healthy meals that we spent last summer preparing. Nothing new in the kitchen.

Being housebound and somewhat immobile has meant that I needed to find low-impact entertainment. Enter Hulu...the online way to watch TV shows. And it was there that I discovered "Chopped".

Here's the description of the show from the Wikipedia entry:

"In each episode, four chefs compete. Their challenge is to take a mystery basket of ingredients and turn them into a dish that is judged on their creativity, presentation, and taste with minimal time to plan and execute.[1][2] The show is divided into three rounds: "Appetizer", "Entrée", and "Dessert". In each round, the chefs are given a basket containing between three and five (usually four) ingredients, and the dish each competitor prepares must contain each of those ingredients. The ingredients are often ones which are not commonly prepared together. For example, in "Yucca, Watermelon, Tortillas," the episode which originally aired on February 10, 2009, the appetizer course baskets contained watermeloncanned sardinespepper jack cheese, and zucchini.
The competitors are given access to a pantry and refrigerator stocked with a wide variety of other ingredients. Each round has a time limit: twenty minutes for the Appetizer round (thirty minutes in some season one episodes), and thirty minutes for the Entrée and Dessert rounds (some episodes gave the chefs 40 or 45 in the entrée round to allow them to handle whole large poultry, e.g. turkeys, geese, or ducks; another gave the chefs fifty minutes in the dessert round). The chefs must cook their dishes and complete four platings (one for each judge plus one "beauty plate") before time runs out. After each round, the judges critique the dishes based on presentation, taste, and creativity. The judges then decide which chef is "chopped," that is, eliminated from the competition. Thus, by the dessert round, only two chefs remain. When deciding the winner, the judges consider not only the dessert course, but the entire meal presented by each chef as a whole. The winner receives $10,000."

The Chopped Judges are notable chefs, restauranteurs, food critics and cookbook authors of acclaim.  The pace of the show is fast, and each episode has potential for a high degree of creativity (and some culinary disasters....).  I'm fascinated by how the contestant chefs make instant decisions, jump in and start working with bizarre combinations of ingredients: gingerbread and live lobsters....oysters and lemon candy...nopales and quahogs...the list goes on and on.

Tempers flare, drama ensues, and the formulaic verbiage of host Ted Allen gets old quickly...but overlooking these minor annoyances, I find the show to be an interesting and engaging diversion during my recovery. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Kale and Quinoa Salad

I first had this at the cafeteria at work and asked the head chef about it. She admitted that she had googled "Kale and Quinoa" recipes and improvised from there. I did the same.


1 cup quinoa cooked in 2 cups vegetable broth
1 head Lacinto Kale, stems removed and discarded. Leaves chopped fine
1 red onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 - 1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon red hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

  • Cook quinoa as per directions on package. I cooked mine in vegetable broth instead of plain water. When cooked, 
  • In a large bowl, combine garlic, tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, hot sauce and honey. Mix well and set aside. 
  • Chop onion and red pepper. 
  • Add chopped Kale to bowl with tahini mixture. Mix well. 
  • Add onion and red pepper. 
  • When the quinoa is cool, add to the bowl. Mix well. 

Eat. Then eat more.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Red Pepper Sweet Potato Cream Sauce

After I made the butternut squash ravioli, I needed a creamy sauce to compliment it. This was a completely seat-of-the-pants experiment that worked like a charm. I swear, sweet potatoes are magical vegetables!

  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 baked then mashed sweet potato
  • 1/2 roasted red sweet pepper
  • small amount of milk (1 tablespoon...maybe a little more)
  • dash of cayenne
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Throw it in the blender and blend till creamy. Heat briefly in microwave before adding to pasta.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Ravioli Fiesta

I was away last week, and had a particularly wonderful dinner one night of butternut squash and sweet potato ravioli. I have never made ravioli before, but did some experimenting today and made several dozen raviolis in two flavors.

Making the Pasta Dough:

4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons egg beaters

Mix the flour, salt, egg and small amounts of water.
Knead dough, adding water as needed to mix in all the flour.
Form fully kneaded dough into a ball and set it aside.

Making the Ravioli Fillings:

Spinach and Ricotta
8 oz Ricotta cheese
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 teaspoon pesto

Mix all ingredients together. Set aside.

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato
1 sweet potato - baked and mashed
1.5 cups butternut squash - baked and mashed

Mix all ingredients together. Set aside.

Shaping the Ravioli:
Roll out the dough.
Place a teaspoon of filling about 2 inches apart on one half of the roll.

Fold the dough in half.
With a sharp knife, cut through both layers of the folded pasta, and then trim to squares.
Seal the edges by pressing with a fork.

To cook, boil water. Add a small amount of olive oil.
When the water is boiling, add the ravioli.
Cook until the ravioli rises to the top of the water (about 5 minutes).

We had the spinach/ricotta/pesto ravioli tonight with homemade tomato sauce. 

I've frozen the butternut squash and sweet potato ravioli for another day.