Tag Archives: nutmeg

Zucchini Bread Pancakes

DSC_6087I ran a 10K a few weekends ago.  It was the first one I’ve run in 2 1/2 years.  A friend of mine gave me her spot in the race, so I took it as an opportunity to try and push myself.  My workout routine became very slack over the summer months– that and perhaps too many sweets­­– which resulted in my pants being tighter than they should be.   So it felt good to have a goal to work towards.  I did a lot of running intervals on the treadmill at 6 a.m., and subsequently, remembered what it was like to feel euphoric after a good workout.   Things went along pretty smoothly over the course of my 4 weeks of training, even though I knew I might be pushing myself more, and faster, than I should be.   However, on my last long run before the race, I hit a wall.  I don’t know what happened, but I had to stop and walk several times.  My legs felt like lead.  It was a horrible run, and I felt really shitty about it.  In retrospect, I might have been focusing too much on my speed.  Afterword, I tried to reassure myself that a less-than-stellar run was o.k.  Despite my anxiety about the upcoming race, I told myself to focus on going slow and running the entire 10K, and not worry about my finishing time.
DSC_6078I woke up at 5:30 a.m. that Sunday morning and headed into Manhattan.  I tried to shake off any lingering doubts about my recent running performance.  I repeated a mantra:  Slow and steady; just finish.  It was a beautiful morning.  The sun was just coming up, and there was a cool breeze coming off the Hudson River.  I ran what I thought was a super-slow pace.  Many, many people passed me.   I just put my head down and kept running.   I felt really good for the entire race.  I figured if I had enough energy towards the end, I would pick up my pace a bit and try to finish strong.   Indeed, I did.  I ran an 11-minute mile, which is a personal best for me.   I was incredibly proud of myself, and my feeling of euphoria lasted the rest of the day.  I remember thinking that I wanted to hold on to this feeling for as long as possible.  If only we could retrieve feelings the way we can pull up a song to elicit a memory.  I hope to remember that feeling when I’m having a crummy day.  As a reward for the 10K, I treated myself to my favorite pancakes in the city at Johnny’s Luncheonette.
DSC_6081Speaking of pancakes (I didn’t even plan that transition!), these zucchini bread pancakes need to go on your Make Immediately recipe list.  Light and healthy, they also scream, “Fall is finally here!”  And the maple yogurt is the perfect topping on these, as straight up maple syrup would be too sweet for these beauties, in my opinion.  Instead, the tang of the yogurt provides a nice complement to the sweet spices.
DSC_6089Zucchini Bread Pancakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Yield:  10 to 12 pancakes

2 large eggs
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons light brown or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk or 2 tablespoons each of milk and plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 1/2 medium zucchini)
1 cup all-purpose flour (half can seamlessly be swapped with a whole wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
Butter or oil, for coating skillet

1. In a large bowl, combine eggs, olive oil, sugar, buttermilk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in zucchini shreds.
2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into zucchini batter, mixing until just combined.
3. Preheat oven to 200°F and place a baking sheet on a middle rack.
4. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Once hot, melt a pat of butter in pan and swirl it around until it sizzles.
5. Scoop scant 1/4-cup dollops of batter in pan so the puddles do not touch. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook another minute or two, until golden underneath.
6. Transfer pancakes to prepared pan to keep warm as well as ensure that they’re all cooked through when they’re served. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm.

Curry-Creamed Spinach and Tofu With Potato Crust

DSC_4973I feel like my hormones are out of whack.  I have been taking several different hormone medications for almost two years now, and I think my hormones are finally rebelling.  Ironically, I have been on a “break” with the treatments for the past few months so it seems a bit strange that my hormones would not be at their natural stasis.   I’ve been pondering this for the past few weeks, and the most logical scenario I can come up with is that my hormones have become so used to being tweaked that they no longer know how to get back to their natural state.

Hence the tossing and turning at night.
Hence consuming massive quantities of sugar.
Hence my chin breaking out like that of a teenage boy’s.
DSC_4957I read a book a few months back that was all about teaching women how to live according to their monthly cycle i.e. their hormone production.  It was intriguing and I took a lot of notes.  The author posited that women need to go about their daily lives always keeping in mind where they are in their monthly cycle.  Hormones are incredibly powerful and therefore affect our behavior, how we make decisions, and how we feel about the world around us.  She recommended that we adjust our exercise schedule as well as the foods we consume based on where we are in our cycle.  I think there is a lot of truth in this.  Apparently I need more cauliflower in my diet this week.

I can’t seem to come up with any other explanation for what my body is going through.  My husband says I’ve been fiercely tossing and turning at night like never before.  And I’m reverting back to my old insomniac ways, which I haven’t experienced this regularly in a long time.  Yesterday was a good example of something I haven’t done in years, and it felt completely regressive but also completely out of my control.  At some point over a decade ago, I became obsessed with the meatball sub at Subway.  I could always tell when I was PMS’ing because I would start to intensely crave this meatball sub, as well as a bag of Sun Chips (they still make them!).  Before yesterday, I probably hadn’t had one in three years or so.  But it was almost like some unknown force was pulling me there.  I gave in.  It wasn’t nearly as good as I’d remembered—maybe because they recently took all of the trans fats and synthetic chemicals out of their bread?
DSC_4964This recipe led to me making a batch of (baked) homemade potato chips for the first time!  And because of my hormonal imbalance, I ate half the batch while standing over the stove in the kitchen.  Almost as bad as eating over the sink.  I found this recipe in a recent Sunday Magazine in the New York Times.  I really wanted to try it based on the fact that I’ve never made anything with coconut milk before.  And I think I’ve cooked with tofu all of three times in my life.  It’s a really tasty dish that requires almost no effort other than thinly slicing potatoes.  The nutmeg and garam masala add a nice warmth to the dish that made me wish it were October instead of May, which is a shame because May is one of our loveliest months here in NYC.  Try this recipe and let me know what you think.
DSC_4965Curry-Creamed Spinach and Tofu With Potato Crust
Adapted from New York Times Magazine

Yield:  4 servings

3 pounds spinach, trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 brick firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large russet potato, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper
Sea salt

1.  Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Bring a large pot of water to boil, and salt it.
2.  When the water is boiling, add the spinach, and cook for about a minute.  Plunge the spinach into a large bowl of ice water, squeeze the moisture from the leaves and roughly chop them.
3.  Put the butter, garam masala and nutmeg in a large saucepan over medium heat.  When the spices are fragrant, add the coconut milk, yogurt, spinach, tofu and 1 teaspoon salt.
4.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach has absorbed much of the liquid; taste, and adjust the seasoning, and transfer to an ovenproof dish.
5.  Toss the potato slices with the oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Lay them over the top of the spinach and tofu without overlapping too much.
6.  Bake until the potatoes are golden and crisp, 25 to 35 minutes.  Scoop into bowls and serve.

 

 

 

Ginger-Squash Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

DSC_3830When I first moved in with my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time), I remember being very excited to cook for him.  Before I moved in, I had been living out in Park Slope with a nice roommate found on Craigslist.  We never ate meals together since we had completely opposite schedules, and I rarely cooked since cooking for one is no pleasure at all.  I ate a lot of hummus, salsa and egg salad on rice cakes.  Looking back, I don’t know how I went without a hot meal for so long.  I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that I was in love, and hot meals were a very low priority at the time.  I’m still in love with my husband but hot meals have moved up the priority list since then.

DSC_3812 After getting settled into Mr. K’s apartment, I started to cook up a storm.  I remember feeling like I wanted to really impress him with my cooking skills.  I had made a couple of meals for him out in Park Slope, but I was going to blow him away with my talent.  He was going to feel so loved and nurtured by my cooking.  He would become so appreciative of having a girlfriend that could not only cook but could BAKE that he would be walking around in a constant state of bliss.  We were going to have long, leisurely conversations as we ate our home-cooked meals at the table.  Well, it didn’t really happen that way.  To begin with, I noticed that he would stop talking the minute food was put in front of him.  He also ate his food extremely fast.  In addition, he had become used to eating in front of the television after several years of living solo.   I wanted to have a conversation with him about food.  More specifically, what food meant, means, to me.  For me, food is pleasure, comfort, gratification, and satisfaction.  I feel nurtured when someone makes a home-cooked meal for me.  Likewise, I cook for people to show them that they are important to me.  When I shared this with him, I asked him if he felt the same way.  Turns out, we approach food differently.  He, like me, loves to eat but he doesn’t look at it as a way of nurturing himself.  Rather, it is something to simply be enjoyed.  Throughout our 4-1/2 years together, he has cooked approximately 6 meals for me.  It would be a lot easier for me to accept the fact that he does not enjoy cooking if he were, in fact, a horrible cook.  But he is a fantastic cook!  Everything he makes is exquisite, and it only makes me wish that he cooked more often.  Even better, there is real entertainment value in watching him make a meal.  He’s like a mad scientist in the kitchen.  He tapes his recipe to the cupboard, and not only am I not allowed in the kitchen, but I am not allowed to speak to him while he is cooking lest he lose his concentration.  After we eat the delicious meal he prepared, I step into the kitchen where it looks like it has been ransacked by wolves.  He hasn’t quite gotten the art of cleaning up as he goes.  But I’m confident he’ll figure it out eventually.

DSC_3822 I haven’t made a cake in a very long time.  This recipe is the perfect gateway to bigger and fancier cakes.  It is very simple but still fulfills your cake craving.  The squash adds moisture, much like zucchini does in zucchini bread.  The pecans are in the cake as well as sprinkled on top so you get some crunch.  But I think the highlight of this recipe is the ginger.  I fell in love with ginger a couple of years ago.  I don’t think it’s used enough, especially in baking.  Most recipes call for dried ginger, but I say go ahead and add freshly grated ginger whenever possible.  It really does make a difference.  The white chocolate frosting is a very thin layer.  If you like a sweeter cake, double the frosting recipe.  If you are someone like me who loves baked goods with fall spices this time of year, try this recipe.  And because of the squash, you will be eating your vegetables along with the cake.

DSC_3837Ginger-Squash Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine

Yield:  8 servings

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup finely shredded peeled butternut squash
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans, divided

3 tablespoons whipping cream
3 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray.
2.  Whisk flour and next 6 ingredients in medium bowl.
3.  Using an electric mixer, beat squash, brown sugar, butter, egg, ginger, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in large bowl to blend.
4.  Fold in flour mixture and 1/2 cup pecans.  Transfer to pan, spreading to edges (layer will be thin).  Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Cool.
5.  Bring cream just to boil in small saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat.
6.  Add white chocolate and remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla; whisk until smooth.
7.  Let stand at room temperature until thick enough to spread, about 20 minutes.  Spread over cake.  Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup nuts over cake.