Thursday, January 27, 2011

Greek Lentil Burgers

Many of you may not know that I took Modern Greek for two years in college.  That's right, I can totally remember everything.  Well, everything that includes the basic niceties, "I'm sorry," "where is the toilet?," how to order some food and I can probably curse on par with a Grecian sailor.  What can I say, my Greek professor taught me well!  Even though I can't remember the Greek language very well, I do remember how much I love Greek food.  If I pass a γύρο (gyro) stand, it's so hard to resist buying one.  Sometimes, I even wish I could bathe in τζατζίκι (tazatziki) sauce… I have a feeling it would at least be moisturizing!

Well, now that you know some of my intricacies, I should let you know that these lentil burgers probably aren't legitimate Greek fare.  I used the Moosewood Restaurant's Cooking For Health and these were 'inspired' by the taste of the Greek islands.  All is fine with me, because these were pretty dang delicious.  They were meaty, worked well plain or in a salad and stored well seemingly forever (they didn't last long enough my my fridge to validate this claim).  Best part?  These are incredibly budget friendly and fit well into my "eat something for a whole week" plan.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hearty Lentil Soup

It's even better with Gruyère & Dubliner grilled cheese!  Mmm!

There is nothing worse than making a recipe… then completely forgetting what you did to make it.  All I have is this picture and a few remnants of taste memories in my mind.  Blerg.  I think it is enough to write a recipe on, I mean, lentil soup is lentil soup.  And I remember making it with only ingredients I had on hand, which means this soup is very adaptable.  At the time, I remember only having some onions, so I used onions.  However, if you have celery, carrots or even potatoes, feel free to add those in too!  The possibilities are endless!  Side note: why does lentil soup have to be so ugly and brown?  Is is SO delicious and SO healthy, but it's just so… brown.

This month I have really been trying to keep way under my budget (which isn't that large to begin with) so I started off by going to Whole Foods and completely raiding their dry and bulk food bins.  Five pounds of lentil in a bag bigger than my head?  Check.  Dried black beans, kidney beans and some white beans for good measure?  Check, check, check.  But let's not forget about the brown rice!  Double check on that one.  Oy, where is the check out?  I think you all know where I am going here… I have been making a lot of soups on Sunday and eating them through the week.  It really has been quite nice (until it gets to Friday and I am sick of eating the same thing) and I like being able to have a "home cooked meal" on Wednesday without having to lift anything more than a small saucepan to reheat my soup!

I also need to give some credit where credit is lovingly due, to my sister!  This not grainy and well lit photograph is sponsored by Santa Sister, i.e. my Christmas gift from my sister!  I would like to assume that my family follows my blog in a cult like fashion, and anyone else who does would know that I am frequently at a loss for light.  The shy Seattle sun sets mighty early in the winter (around 3 pm!) and as a result, I do most of my cooking after dark.  The lights of my kitchen or a harsh flash bouncing on every which wall of my apartment do not bode my food well.  So yes, pre-light box, I bitched about lighting a lot.  Now post-light box, I can take pictures any time of the night (I feel like an evil laugh would be appropriate here)!!  So thank you, Caroline, so very very much for giving me a light box for Christmas!  This post is solely dedicated to you!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Roasted Pear Rosemary Upside Down Cake

This cake impresses people.  When I went through the car wash and this cake was riding shotgun, the man taking my money said he'd take the cake in exchange.  Considering that shelling out $10 for just a car wash makes my stomach turn, I would have taken him up on his offer.  As luck would have it, I think he was kidding and I really wanted to savor some of the cake when I got home.

Cut to pre-Christmas.  My friend Ann & I got together to cook some dinner and wish each other a Merry Christmas before I left for Michigan.  That, and I honesty couldn't remember the last time we hung out so saying we were overdue is an understatement.  We made a chicken tajine, sautéed cauliflower and for dessert, you guessed it, this cake.  The rosemary contests nicely with the slightly more blunt flavor of cornmeal; I just couldn't stop thinking about it!  I was able to take a nice big wedge of it home with me and I knew I needed to make it as soon as I got back from Michigan.

If you'd be so kind to press fast-forward on your handy dandy remotes, we'll jump to the last night of 2010.  After working a long shift at work, I rushed home and immediately got to work on baking.  Julie was hosting the New Years Eve party and my sole job was to bring some bubbly and dessert.  Naturally I didn't plan well and left the baking to right before I needed to be at the party.  You really don't want to see me when I'm baking and simultaneously getting gussied up, it doesn't mix well.  My BCBG dress (that I got for $20 on ebay!!) made it out of that battle alive, but don't think that I didn't show up to the party without some rosemary in my hair or butter on my face.  I was in such a rush that I made my date take the bus to the party because I didn't have time to pick him up.  Erm… oops... At least I made one cake too many and was able to take the extra one home with me.  I didn't plan it like that or anything... I don't know what you're suggesting.

But this cake makes everything ok.  All was well when this cake enters the scene.  My only qualm with it, that is completely my fault, is that it doesn't work well with coarse ground cornmeal.  I found that out the hard way.  I realized I only had coarse ground on hand, semi-successfully tried to grind it finer in the blender and made it work as best I could.  I also didn't (but NOW I do!) have a cast-iron skillet so I used a 9-inch cake pan and it worked wonderfully.

This message is for my sister (but you can read it too if you want): Caroline, I wanted to let to know that my next three posts will be using the lightbox you got me for Christmas!  Keep an eye out for it!  Love, Sis

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pumpkin Tangerine Chocolate Truffles

Sooner or later I promise I will get to a healthier selection of recipes, but for the time being its going to be a little bit on the side of later.  At least you can rest easy knowing that this is my last Christmas cookie recipe!  Yes, there were other cookies on my plate, but they were either tried and true favorites or, quite honestly, the pictures were way less than stellar or I wasn't a big fan of the cookies themselves.

That's right, I failed miserably and I will (slightly hesitantly) confidently admit that.  I. Failed.  I tried making "bulls-eye cookies," alternating rings of red, green and white sugar cookie dough rolled up and cut into medallions.  To jazz it up a little, I thought I might roll the logs in chocolate sprinkles or crushed up candy canes.  Chocolate sprinkles were a good idea (they held up to the temperature of the oven) but the crushed candy canes melted everywhere.  This made the edge of the cookies sticky and to add insult to injury, the outer ring of those cookies were green.  You can guess what that looked like… toxic green Christmas sludge cookies.  Yum.  As I've mentioned earlier, my oven is a little finicky and sometimes things come out burnt even if I baked them 5 minutes shorter than the recommended time.  Ironically, these cookies were way under-baked even though I kept them in for almost 8 minutes longer than suggested.  I bet you really want to keep reading my blog now, but hey, I think admitting my defeat makes me a more credible source, no?

You aren't here to read about my failures,  you want to eat with your eyes and find delicious recipes!  Cut to these Pumpkin Tangerine Chocolate Truffles, in the words of an unnamed and slightly annoying Food Network television personality "DE-LISH" (I can't believe I just said that, but this is post of banishing norms).  I had originally intended to use a recipe I found on Annie's Eats, but I soon realized I had no oranges nor did I have any white chocolate.  Instead, I had over a pound of dark chocolate and more tangerines than I could ever need.

I was slightly disappointed that the truffles didn't have a stronger pumpkin flavor, but I did like that they took on the flavor of the traditional Christmas chocolate orange.  Even though the pumpkin flavor was more of a afterthought, the puree did help contribute some 'lightness' to the texture.  If you want to make the original recipe, head on over to Annie's Eats:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thin Mint Star Cookies

I bet you noticed something is a little different.  No, I didn't get a haircut.  No, I didn't lose 10 pounds (I wish!).  But YES, thank you for noticing, I did redesign The Ginger Cook.  I obviously wanted to keep the whole ginger (read: redhead) color present, but I wanted to strip everything down.  I worked to achieve this by making the background a crisp white and the accent colors two shades of "ginger" and gray.  I made all the "badges" and the header using pixelmator (i.e. Mac photoshop) and in my perfect little dream world, I'm going to update the banner for every season.  Let's see if this will actually happen or not.

All in all, I would say I am really happy with the redesign!  Yes, there are still some things that need to be worked out, but quite honestly, I really need to take a break from coding.  I am not a coder and will never be.  Screaming at my laptop at 2am happened more times than I would like to admit.  There was a lot of "BLERG!  Why won't the font just change??'  U of M, the few web design classes I took did not prepare me for doing it all on my own.  I'm sorry, but it's the truth.  I guess we can just call it even and say you gave me the life skills to be able to be mildly web savvy all by myself.

I would like you apologize, though, for posting a ('holiday') cookie recipe well after Christmas and while most of you are in the throes of your "get healthy" New Years resolutions.  I swear, I'm not trying to be cruel!  I'm trying to be healthy too.  Expect a lot of soups and lentil concoctions in the upcoming weeks.

Though, aren't thin mints good for the soul year round?  Yes, that's right.  These cookies taste almost exactly like thin mints!  We can't be completely dependent on Girl Scouts, they control the cookie market too heavily.  Break out of their controlling grasps and make to your own girl scout cookies - show them who's boss!!  Girl Scouts, I mean you no harm.  I was one until I was in middle school, but your cookies are too good to be seasonal.  It's very frustrating.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Hello Family, Friends, Followers & Beyond!  This brief message is brought to you by the letter R: Redesign.  That's right, The Ginger Cook is getting stripped down and spiffed up.  When I started this blog in early 2009, the design suited me.  As I've gotten more comfortable with my blogging and designing abilities, I'm looking for something new and fresh with some better organization.  I have a few ideas swimming around in my head and today I am breaking ground (er, code).  Until I am ready to unveil the new "Ginger Cook," I will try and publish regularly as to not leave you all hungry.

I hope you all had a Happy New Year and happy eating!

The Ginger Cook


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