#fromthepantryfebruary: Grain Inventory

IMG_1897Let’s just say I have to get reallllly cozy with polenta, since I have 8.5 lbs of the stuff in my pantry! With the combo of a double CSA flour share (which gave me a net of 7 pounds), plus a stray Bob’s Red Mill 1.5 pound, I did some complex cross-multiplying to figure out how many portions of polenta I have on my hand. Well, the answer is: ONE-HUNDRED TWO portions of polenta in the near future. Needless to say, I’m taking polenta recipe recommendations, so if anyone has any favorites, send ’em my way.

Here is my grain inventory:

  • 6 pounds of polenta (coarsely ground; combo of Purcell Mountain Farms and Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup corn flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 pounds organic hulled buckwheat (Purcell)
  • ~3 cups of long grain organic white rice (Fairway bulk bin)
  • 1 pound organic amaranth (Purcell)
  • 2 pounds organic hulled barley grain (Purcell)
  • 2 cups organic white basmati rice (Fairway bulk bin)
  • 1/2 cup organic wild rice (Fairway bulk bin)
  • 1/2 cup organic pearled barley (Fairway bulk bin)
  • 1 pound organic black quinoa (Purcell)
  • 1 1/4 cup organic sweet rice (Purcell)
  • 1 pound organic sprouted rice (Purcell)
  • 1 pound organic oat groats
  • 2 pounds organic rolled oats (Bob’s)
  • 1 28oz can of steel cut oats (McCann’s)

#fromthepantryfebruary

#fromthepantryfebruary

The mission of Sustainable Pantry is to showcase easy, home-cooked meals inspired by a well-stocked pantry.

Well, let’s just say my pantry has become a little *too* well-stocked.

Currently my pantry is bursting at the seams with bags and bins filled with grains, beans and pasta; there are jars with homemade chutneys and pickled onions made by friends; there are numerous small-batch jams brought back from vacations near and far. My freezer holds extra containers of tofu and setian bought on sale, as well as close to 20 pounds of tomatoes from this fall’s CSA bounty.

I am committing to cooking #fromthepantry this February and I’m inviting all of you to join me! Cooking from the pantry is a great way to save money, reduce food waste and get out of your kitchen habits. The dividends of cooking from your pantry are clearing out all those nooks and crannies in your kitchen and creating more space.

There aren’t really any “rules” to this challenge, and you may still have to buy some fresh ingredients to be able to use some of your pantry items, but you might surprise yourself! I’m excited to see what we all come up with when we limit ourselves to the ingredients already in our house – it’ll be like shopping in your own pre-stocked store!

Please join me for #fromthepantryfebruary! You can participate for a day, a week, or the whole month – I can’t wait to see what we all come up with. Please tag your posts with #fromthepantryfebruary so I can share what you’re all making!

LinzerTashen

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Purim 2015 (5775) – the year of the LinzerTashen! This year I thought outside of the triangle-shaped box. I forwent the ‘folded-up sides’ part of the traditional hamantashen, and made linzer cookies into linzertashen!

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I started with a favorite Martha Stewart recipe for linzer tarts and went from there. I didn’t have two sizes of a triangle cookie cutter, so I used my smaller cookie cutter as a guide and rolled a rolling pastry crimper/cutter to make the larger triangles. They did end up pretty large, but delicious – so more of a good thing, right? Happy Purim, y’all!

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LinzerTashen

Adapted from Martha Stewart – Makes about 15 3-inch cookies

1.5 cups AP flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups ground almonds
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Raspberry jam for filling
Confectioners sugar for dusting

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    1. Mix together flour, almonds, salt, baking powder in a large bowl.
    2. Cream together butter and sugar.  When light and fluffy, add eggs and vanilla & almond extracts.
    3. When mixed, add the flour mixture to the butter and mix until blended and smooth.
    4. Turn out dough onto floured surface and shape into 2 flat discs, wrap in plastic, and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
    5. Preheat oven to 325F/300F convection. Take out 1 disk 15 minutes before you’re ready to roll out the cookies so the dough softens slightly. Roll on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Be sure to flip over periodically so the dough doesn’t stick.
    6. Using a 3″ triangle or a rolling cookie cutter, cut rolled dough into triangles. If you have a 2-inch triangle cookie cutter, use this as a guide – cut with 1/2 inch around the 2-inch cutter. Transfer cookies to a parchment-lined sheetpan with 1 inch between the cookies. Continue with the other disk of dough.
    7. When all the cookies are cut out, use the 2-inch cookie cutter to cut out small triangles from half of the cookies. (Transfer the cut middles to a separate sheetpan since they will bake faster than the larger cookies.)
    8. Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned on the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. (If making ahead, freeze at this step).
    9. To assemble, transfer open cookies to a parchment-lined surface and top with ample powdered sugar. (This is easiest by filling a small metal tea strainer with powdered sugar and shaking over the cookies.)
    10. Spread the closed cookies with raspberry jam, and gently top with sugared open cookies.

Store in a airtight container for 1 day (they become soft if already assembled and allowed to sit for much longer, as I found out… However they were still great as breakfast with black coffee!)

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FOOD! AND! WINE!

I never thought I’d get to say this, but I have a recipe in Food & Wine Magazine! On page 94 and 95 of the March issue, to be exact, and my name is in the magazine not once, but TWICE! This issue, The Cooking School Issue, highlights six of the best new cooking schools in the country, and the beautiful Heirloom Kitchen, where I’ve been keeping busy the last few months teaching classes, is featured! I love being a part of the Heirloom Kitchen family – and it’s no surprise that they were singled out amongst the top cooking schools. In addition to a breathtakingly beautiful space, top of the line equipment, and a thoughtfully curated inventory of kitchen goods and housewares, the owners Neilly and Judy are great people to work with. They’ve consistently encouraged me to think outside the box when it comes to class menus and because of their support, I’ve pushed myself to develop – and teach – a number of recipes that I’m extremely proud of. This is one of them. F&W

I remember when I was brainstorming menu ideas for a vegan class I led in February of 2014 (pre-baby!), and thinking that I wanted to do a whole-foods based empanada. But was it even possible to make an empanada dough (essentially a pie dough) without animal products, and without “fake” animal products like vegan “butter” or shortening? I thought back to my vegan sweet potato challah recipe and wondered if together with coconut oil, sweet potato might work. Well, I can’t say I succeeded right away, but after a few attempts, (happily gobbled up by my trusty taster/husband), I got the combination just right to make a tender, but sturdy crust. For the filling, I wanted to go tempeh all the way. Tempeh is tofu’s hippy uncle, who definitely doesn’t get as much play. But when crumbled, it really has a satisfying “meaty” texture, and with the chipotle sauce and oregano, it becomes a savory and slightly spicy filling for the sweet dough.

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Sauce-wise, I thought it would be funny (and yummy) to serve these vegan empanadas with chimichurri, since chimichurri is typically served with grilled meat. This version adds chopped avocado, which lends an extra creaminess and sweetness that plays well with the tempeh filling.

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Even though I knew it was coming any day, when my husband walked in with a stack of advance copies sent from the offices of Food & Wine, and I finally saw my name in print, it was possibly the most exciting moment of my food life! My friend Tia (who also happens to be published in F&W, and therefore knows the thrill) was over and had the foresight to snap the above pic of me FLIPPING OUT (See the gesticulating blurry hand!? The pulsing forehead vein!? The maniacal smile?!) when reading the article for the first time.

It’s been a whirlwind since it came out, and I’m so grateful to all the friends and family reaching out to congratulate me after seeing it. I’m so thrilled they chose my recipe, and that it got me posting here again! In the coming weeks and months, I hope to be posting more recipes that I have developed over the past year plus. I am definitely still cooking – I just have been doing some other things too (see below), which are taking precedence over the blog at the moment. I hope to be able to get more posts out, and also small short posts to just connect my kitchen to all of you a bit more often.

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For those of you in NY and NJ, I want to invite you to take my next class on March 14th at Heirloom Kitchen. Featured in this month’s Food & Wine 😉 I’m teaching “Vegan Weeknight Meals from a Well-Stocked Pantry“, which will cover my basic list of what to stock in your pantry and fridge so you can come home from a long day and cook delicious, healthy meals – easily – with what you have on hand. After we tackle some of those recipes, we gather around Heirloom Kitchen’s beautiful farm table and share in a meal…There might even be a guest appearance from you know who!

Where have I been? Good question!

I so wanted to get this out yesterday so it would be exactly a year since my last post, but alas, over a year has passed since I last updated this site (a year and one day!). I wouldn’t usually make excuses for that kind of absence, but in this case, the excuses are great ones, so I will share. I want to!

1) We moved. Granted it was just to an apartment upstairs in our same building, and granted we didn’t even have to truly pack (can you say millions of trips with Ikea bags up and down in one-flight elevator trips?!) but it was a move nonetheless. And moves are tough. And when the kitchen got packed up, we ordered a lot of take-out.

2) We renovated the new apartment, including an amazing new kitchen and bathroom. It was pretty awesome to design a kitchen from the walls out and I have to say, I got my dream kitchen! I am hoping to share with you what and why we decided to use for cabinets (Ikea), shelving (Advanced Tabco), countertops (custom stainless steel), appliances (Jenn-Air and Bosch), and flooring (wood), since I found posts like that super helpful when we were researching and planning our renovation, but for now, I will just share this cool fish-eye picture.

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3) Even though I had a fancy, beautiful new kitchen, I wasn’t cooking for the greater part of the fall after we moved in because…I was pregnant (!!) annnnnnd sick all the time.  I honestly couldn’t even THINK of cooking or eating the things I normally love. I subsisted on rice cakes, Puffin cereal, saltines (I clearly had a texture thing) and cut up oranges. I guess at one point during the  pregnancy I baked a pie. See evidence below.

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4) You know what’s coming next, right? Now we have a baby!!! The most beautiful baby boy in the whole entire world who was born this Spring, and who keeps me out of the kitchen because I spend the greater part of every day squeezing his cheeks and talking to him in a voice that is higher than the top of Mariah Carey’s vocal range. There is some cooking is happening, like on CSA night, but not a ton. Or at least not a ton of cooking that requires two hands. And I’m OK with that. He’s the best.

5) Finally, I’ve put off posting because the blog needs work. I’ve been wanting to do a redesign for a while now, and I also have a major spam problem, which needs a lot of attention, and some sort of security-fix. I think we’re probably going to migrate the blog to a different platform – that sounds like I know what I’m talking about, right?

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However, over the past year I’ve also done some pretty awesome cooking things, although it hasn’t been reflected on this site. I offered a series of cooking classes at an amazing kitchen store in Old Bridge, NJ: Heirloom Kitchen. If you live anywhere near there, you should check them out! They offer cooking classes and demonstrations and have a wide assortment of well-curated cooking and baking supplies. I’ve also done a few cooking demonstrations, and have been working more on my recipe development and food photography.

All that said, I’m hoping to be updating this site more regularly, but for now, until I get my new-mama act together, I’ll be cooking one-handed while the other hand squeezes my son’s cheeks.

(I do update my instagram and Facebook pages with more frequency than this blog. I also occaisonally tweet.)