Category Archives: leftovers

Forays into darkest Moosewood

First beans, then oxtail, what’s next? Rye whiskey??

No, no, we will be continuing a review of the classics but leaving the pioneer food to delve into a different genre with today’s post:

Moosewood Fudge Brownies

If you haven’t heard of Moosewood, here’s the short version:

  • restaurant in Ithaca, NY
  • featuring healthful natural foods
  • been around for 38 years
  • has produced a lot of cookbooks…


one of which I love to use for new dessert ideas. In this case I was aiming to use up the last of a jar of instant espresso and some very ripe bananas. The idea was to add them into the recipe for MW’s fudge brownies, substituting the bananas for some of the liquid. Which would have worked fine if, as I was pouring the batter into the square pan, I hadn’t turned around and seen

and this

i.e. that’s what I get for going into the ‘zone’ of following a recipe and not remembering my intent to add-on to it! Bananas still to use and espresso still to finish. #firstworldproblems for sure.

Anyway, following the recipe yielded an interesting result. The brownies turned out very flat, very dense, and even a bit dry, kind of like a flourless chocolate cake (although I did use flour, a combination of white whole-wheat and whole-wheat pastry flour). This was not a case of me overcooking in my terrible oven, either. The batter suuuuure looked beautiful though, eh?
Pouring that fudge brownie batter into the pan

Here’s the order of how it came together. Trader Joe’s chocolate discs and butter, melted.

Melted to the perfect consistency to add the brown sugar and vanilla…
Whisking in the egg, giving it a frothy surface temporarily…
Getting artistic… (look Ma, one-handed whisking!)
Adding flour, a bit at a time

Moosewood Banana Muffins

And finally, that fudge-y consistency we all know and love so well. I brought these into work on an off day (we’ve been having terrible network problems, so a lot of people have been staying home), but they still went over pretty well. Wondering if anyone has had a similar result on the texture/ moisture issue though, since I like a gooey-er brownie myself.

So that was attempt number one. Since I realized I had forgotten the espresso and the bananas right before I put the brownies in the oven, it gave me some time to wash up and start over, which I determined to do. Easiest recipe to turn to in time of need? Well, these were already bookmarked to try in the same book, soooo…


Moosewood Banana Muffins it is (was)! (with add-ins of espresso and chocolate chips)
I had previously made a chocolate banana gingerbread, so I only had 2 bananas. I think this made the muffins a little dry, but the flavor was right on, and if you heat them in the microwave for a few seconds under a wet paper towel…… you can’t tell the difference.

I celebrated my birthday yesterday with many good friends, and am leaving in a few hours for Napoli for a solo vacation, so you could say I’m sandwiched between pleasures.
To come when I return: Scottish Cuisine: my take; Cherry blossoms of DC in 2012; and other treats of living this life full throttle. Salute!

Gingered Lemon Pie for Pi Day

Shadow Puppet Pie Theatre!
Welcome to the Pi Day Post! Working with engineers and following Gesine’s blog made me very excited about the possibilities for this day which honors… an irrational number.
Happily, Pi Day this year coincided with a Green-themed Potluck at work, so I wasn’t forced to eat the whole pie myself. (Wouldn’t that have been awful?)
What’s so green about a lemon pie, you ask? Well, lemons are in season in winter, and ginger is easily frozen, making both of these organic choices great ones for this March (even though this winter has hardly earned its stripes). Add in the fact that I was using crushed Ikea ginger cookie leftovers and the final sweetened condensed milk can from a Costco raid a couple years ago, and it becomes also a thrifty and economical use of my pantry ingredients! Ah, happiness found. :-)
I was excited to use such a great recipe from Leah at So How’s It Taste?, whom I met through the Food Bloggers’ Cookie Swap last Christmas. She has crafted a pie with many layers of both lemon and ginger flavor, for a fantastic result! Her recipe follows, with my adaptive tweaks.
Gingered Lemon Icebox Pie
makes 8 servings 12 modest slices


1 1/2 cups Trader Joe’s Triple Ikea ginger cookie crumbs (or gingersnap cookie crumbs)
1 tbsp. crystallized ginger
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
6 tbsp. melted butter (could’ve done with 5 tbsp, I think)
1/2 cup 1/3 cup was fine fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons, mailed from the backyard tree at home in California!)
2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
3 egg yolks
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
zest from 1 lemon

1. For the crust, preheat oven to 350°F. Blend the cookie crumbs and the crystallized ginger in a food processor until well blended and no unappetizing chunks of the ginger remain. Transfer crumb mixture to a medium bowl and add the sugar and ground ginger; mix well. Add the melted butter and combine. Press into the bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool.

Down to the bottom after baking, cooling
Up the sides before baking…

2. For the filling, in a small saucepan add the lemon juice and minced ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, add the egg yolks to a medium bowl and whisk. Add the sweetened condensed milk and the lemon zest. Strain the ginger lemon juice mixture over the same bowl, pressing on the ginger to release its flavor (save to flavor tea). Whisk all ingredients until well combined.
4. Pour lemon mixture into baked pie crust. Bake at 325°F for 30-35 minutes, until filling is set. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Place pie in refrigerator and let set for at least 3 hours (I made mine 2 days in advance and it wasn’t adversely affected). Serve chilled with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

The behind the scenes shots show my battle array:
From window to wall…
From wall to window!

And from this you can understand why each and every baking effort of mine results in a sinkful of dishes! From Left to Right: egg yolks being whisked, sink starting to fill, open can of sweetened, condensed milk, ginger-lemon juice mixture steeping on a burner, pie crust awaiting filling, zesting accomplished. Phew!

Lots of steps and utensils, but sooo worth it!

Did you make a pie for Pi Day??
Do you have advice about how to stop a cookie-crumb-crust from sliding down while baking?
Are you laughing at the size of my kitchen?

Let me know in the comments so I can laugh along. :-)

And make this pie. You won’t be sorry.

The First Literary Tea ‘salon’

If you read this blog fairly regularly, you may have noticed a gap over the last month.

Not too much content.
Not so big on the typing of words.
Not even pictures for a distraction!

This may be all the more disappointing after the momentum I had built up in December. Sorry, folks, for dropping the ball. I don’t think the fractured arm completely accounts for it, either. I switched gears from an external, writing-focused effusion about upcoming changes in my life to an internal and social-based incubation of projects to prepare for those upcoming changes. So the stew is still stewing, I just turned the heat down and put the lid on- ya follow me? (another metaphor?!)

So, what have I been doing with my time? Not much cooking, unfortunately. I probably could be doing more, but that would entail visualizing each step of the cooking process in advance and then arranging for someone to do the parts that I can’t manage (chopping, mixing, jar-opening, etc.) ahead of time, which is just too much planning, even for moi.

I made mujaddara (found first here, before it became a celeb and was posted here), a dish long on The List, and appealing in its super-easiness. Highly recommended.

Braised Fennel with Balsamic

And then a couple of weeks ago, I had to follow through on an idea I had back in November, involving a fair amount of cooking and advance shopping. In this case, I did have to ask a friend over to chop some onions and fennel and wash some dishes… The reason I felt so committed to hosting this soiree was that its goal was to raise some funds for a non-profit that was having real difficulties financially. It was founded by a good friend of mine and three other education reformers who were looking to take stock of where we are in the U.S. and around the world, and make education systems better for all those involved (donate here if you believe in the importance of this cause!).

I had a great theme for the party too: a Literary Tea. I was reading about bygone food cultures when a tossed-out reference to Literary Teas of the 1960s caught my imagination. It described them as cocktail hours for the New York publishing world, another pushy scene where writers and agents and publishers acted out the social version of Darwinism. Ech. Not my crowd. But ‘Literary Tea’ had promise, and I crafted my own theme, reclaiming and repurposing the name for better use.

I had grand plans for cooking soups and baking breads and whipping up desserts, but in the end, I admitted it was not realistic to think I would make all these things for 9 people- the max that would fit in my living room!  So I did some make-ahead things (twice-baked shortbread, Saltine toffee bars) and then relied on 1) fire-under-the-feet inspiration, fueled by 2) clean-out-the-refrigerator spirit. It worked out great! The stew (main course) that resulted included the following ingredients, roughly in order of throwing in:
vegetable broth
chopped carrots
tomato paste
cooked butternut squash
microwaved sweet potato
Trader Joe’s precooked lentils
hot Italian sausage (farmer’s market find!)

I asked my friends to contribute what they would have spent on bringing something to the dinner party, since I was taking care of everything (and replacing wine with tea, an AWESOME idea), and they went far beyond that, which was amazing. I was proud to contribute the amount that my friends had pitched in, topping it off with my own contribution, which amounted to $355. Amazing.
Along with the food and drinks, this salon was literary-themed, meaning:
I broke the ice with softball questions about favorite books of all-time and current books being perused. That went pretty well. After that, we dove into a long, involved round of The Origin of Expressions, which I was very excited about for this group. The game requires 1) the ability to bring forth useless factoids of world history and/or 2) the ability to fool people into thinking you know what you’re talking about. Perfect activity for all these friends from grad school days, where you hone both of the above skills. One round was enough because of the complex scoring process, then we were on to Boggle, which a friend had brought- several lightning rounds ensued, and in closing, I can’t believe I never played the game before. Awesome.

I hope you didn’t think I’ve been idle. I hope you knew there must have been some close-to-the-heart reason that kept me from updating this blog more closely, because there was. But my Literary Tea was a success! and soon there will be lots more where that came from.

**cast coming off in 1 week! Happy Valentine’s, indeed!**