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Spinach and Artichoke Dip on bread. Dip in bowl. Dip da dip dip dippity do

6 Apr

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Ohhhh my goodness. I am finally done with the season of Girls on GIRLS. Although we will be rolling out cocktail-making segments soon.
And in between doing a bunch of live shows that ran the gamut from improv to sketch to contortion for comedy, I decided to pull out some of the posts I had had in my drafts for a while. This is one of them. A recipe I’ve enjoyed enough to make more than once. That’s a big compliment from me because having to vet new cookbooks leaves little time for old favorites. The genius work of Joy the Baker keeps me coming back.

Here’s the deal:
I LOVE a sandwich. I cannot dislike anything involving ample carbohydrates.

Here’s the other deal with a sandwich though:
I only love it if I can eat it on a plate with a knife and fork so I can deconstruct and reconstruct as I like. Here, a bite of the whole sandwich, there, a forkful of filling. Then a leftover bit of bread from where I swiped the filling. That I may butter.

The third and final deal with a sandwich is that I rarely actually eat things that are supposed to be served on carbs ON the said carbs. I devour bowls of spicy salsa with a spoon pretty much daily. It is not so different from gazpacho right? Then I butter the chips.
And I rarely eat the cheese on cheese plates atop the slices of baguette that come with it. I nibble each bit of fromage individually. The better to really taste the cheese, my dear. Then I butter the baguette.

So I made this dip and enjoyed deconstructing a sandwich made with it, and still had leftover dip to gobble from a bowl. And at some point I ran out of bread but I always keep back-up butter.

Take home lesson from this blog post is this: ALWAYS HAVE BACKUP BUTTER.

Spicy Spinach and Artichoke Dip/Spread adapted from this recipe by Joy the Baker
Olive oil spray
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
A few handfuls if baby spinach
2 pieces of whole wheat bread
1 Tbsp. cream cheese
2 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded
3/4 c. Chopped artichoke hearts
Pinch of fleur de sel
1 heaping Tbsp. Cottage cheese, mashed with a fork until relatively smooth
1 1/2 tsp. Sriracha
Butter
Spray a pan with the oil and sauté the garlic a bit then add the spinach, an cook just until wilted. Take off heat. Spread the bread slices with the cream cheese. Stir together the spinach mixture, Swiss cheese, artichoke hearts, fleur de sel, cottage cheese, and Sriracha. Heap as much as you want on top of cream cheese on one piece of bread, (save the rest for another sandwich, or if you are like me, eating out of a bowl) and top with other slice of bread, cream cheese side down. Spread outside of sandwich with butter and cook Ina skillet on each side until browned to your liking. Because it is all about you.

Egg Creams and a GIVEAWAY here-what?!

4 Oct

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I’m actually not lying to you when I say it’s the best. I don’t know why I said “actually” as I never lie. Hence the lack of product endorsement on my blog.

But there is a stevia product out there that is the best. Actually it is the only one I find tolerable. Which could mean that it is still crap, except that it is not. It’s good.

I am speaking to you of NuNaturals products. Stevia is not an artificial sweetener. It is real. In fact it is so sweet that you can only use teensy tiny bits of it to sweeten things-hence why it is calorie free. The one problem I have with all the other stevia sweeteners is that they are hella bitter. But I first got into NuNaturals when I tried some of their liquid stevia sweetener and found it was just sweet. No bitter. Whee!

Do not mistake me. This is not a total sugar substitute for me. I will never leave sugar completely, but I am a sugar addict so all I’m saying is I want us to have an open relationship.

I confess I get a huge kick out of getting to try new things for free. I promise I won’t share with you any of these things that don’t deserve to be shared. However I gladly would share NuNaturals so imagine my girlish squeal when I opened my email and saw this:

“We have recently introduced some additional new items that I would love for you to try. We are very excited about our NEW INDUSTRY FIRST, STEVIA BASED, ” O ” CALORIE, SUGAR-FREE, DAIRY-FREE, GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN, COCOA SYRUP , SIMPLE SYRUP, & COCOA MINT SYRUP.”

OOOOOHHHH free kitchen toys! Ones I am behind.
Vitamix I am looking at you.

And I get to host a blimey GIVEAWAY!!!! Yes you, you too could try this stuff and MOOOORRRRE! Details at the bottom of the post.

In the meantime I had actually been playing around with the venerable beverage known as an egg cream which has neither eggs nor cream and I had never tried before this year so I couldn’t vouch for “venerable” but I figured why not plug my new syrups into the equation? Ps in this equation 2+3=6

This is NOT a classic NYC diner version. More like a Beverly Hills post-spin class one? Not that I would know. There are a gajillion different versions of an egg cream out there and I had never even had one before so had no gauge. Also I’m using stevia syrup so I gave up on trying for authentic long ago. I just went whole vegan hog and made this a ridiculously LA drink. I used an alt mylk. Which is to say almond milk. The only way this could get more classic LA would be if I garnished with a kale chip, which you are welcome to do, but I wouldn’t.

Here’s my alt drink which surprised me in its tastiness. I found myself craving one days later, which is my marker for if a recipe is worth sharing. You could use regular milk and syrup in this if you like but I don’t know if the proportions would need to be different. Fortunately, this is a drink you can keep adding to until it is mixed to your liking. Much like us LA people alter menu items until no longer recognizable as their original version. But if you do tinker with this and end up drinking a bacon-infused tomato toddy, please don’t tell people it is an egg cream.

Then again, perhaps you could. After all, this is the drink that has NOTHING to do with its name.

Classic Los Angeles Egg Cream
2 Tbsp. nunaturals chocolate syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
club soda, to taste
Add your milk and syrup to a glass and give them a stir. Top off with as much club soda as you deem fit. Enjoy. Easy peasy.

Okay, the giveaway! Here is what you win:

( 1 ) one bottle of the Cherry Vanilla Stevia Liquid,
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a 50 pkt box of our NuStevia White Stevia Powder packets,
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PLUS a bottle of our NEW COCOA SYRUP
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& a bottle of our NEW SIMPLE SYRUP.
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Each of your 4 winners will receive the complete product selection of all 4 items with the retail value of $ 55.00 , PLUS A FREE BONUS PRODUCT!

And I was advised to tell ya, you can get a discount on the webpage: http://www.nunaturals.com
Here’s how Ron the sugar-free poppa (ironic since he is my sugar papa when it comes to these products and…oh, sugar free…haha I get it) says to get it:

“When they get to our checkout page they should enter the DISCOUNT CODE ; BLG1214 and they will receive – 15% DISCOUNT on their ENTIRE ORDER. ( excluding any other discounts ) This discount remains EFFECTIVE UNTIL DECEMBER 31, 2014. Online ordering customers may also receive FREE SHIPPING to the CONTINENTAL U. S. on all orders exceeding $35.00 after discounts.”

If you try it and dig it you can like em’ up on ye olde Facebook page.

TO ENTER
So here is whatcha do: I am thinking of a number between 0 and 1000. Leave me a comment with what number you think it is. Whoever guesses closest wins. If someone guesses one above and one person guesses one below the higher number wins. If more than one person think of the right number I will put their names in a hat (or bowl or jar that remains to be determined) and draw. I know I am asking you to trust me on this but…why would I lie about stevia?

Contest is open a month until October 24th, midnight PST.

Green, not with envy

22 Sep

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Ohmygod life right now. Whereas I spent a good chunk of this year envying everyone who didn’t have disaster crashing down on there heads-did I tell you about my collapsing ceiling? I had an entire ceiling collapse of its own accord earlier this year.
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I counted myself as lucky that I wasn’t in the room when it happened but it still sucked. And I wasn’t getting enough jobs and a potential book deal didn’t end up happening and there was briefly a boy and just as quickly not one (silly boy) and so on.

Things always do improve though at some point. The last couple of months have been fantastic. Although initially distraught when one of my two improv teams broke up, suddenly we had the time to shoot all the films n such we’d been wanting to make. So we did shoot a bunch of shorts and several weeks ago I got to be a goth vampire. It was really delightful fun:

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I realize I don’t look like I’m having fun. I was trying to make fun of that silly model pose. Where they suck in their stomach like they need to or something. As if. Blech.

I also got to play a heroin addict in a web series but I will spare you the pictures of how incredibly disgusting I spent my days on set being. Let’s just say there were track marks, massive bruises, and…greasy, greasy, GREASY stringy hair. Anytime I sit down to get my hair done on set and the stylist starts with “now, the way I rat your hair it’ll be easy to untangle”, it is a bad sign. Because the day will end with me ripping out masses of hair that won’t come un-ratted. But the pain (inner and outer) was worth it. I hadn’t played a dramatic role in a while and it sho nuff filled me up.

On the food front I am starting to get more cookbooks sent to me by publicists to write about in my Hello Giggles column. I’m pleased to report the most popular review yet was about Savory Pies, written by Greg Henry magnificent Sippity Sup….night swimming. I became even more a fan when he invited me to join The Table Set for a little Nightswimming and drinks n nibbles with him and the Set. They are positively as lovely to hang out with in person as they are to insert in my earholes. It’s a podcast people. Get out of your filthy heads.

Earlier this weekend I shot a spec episode this lil’ show I came up with called Girls on Girls. I could explain how it isn’t SO dirty but I’d rather let your filthy minds wander where they need to. Until we get picked up.

So right now, needing a new agent, sans romance, not dipping where I’d like to be on that silly imdb star rating…I’m not so bothered by it.

What am I bothered by? The distress I felt the other day as I combed grocery store after grocery store in search of my beloved rainbow chip frosting. Which apparently is now a rainbow sprinkles frosting. Fucking sprinkles. I do not believe in sprinkles-either the vulgar-tasting frosting maggots or the cupcake store. Cupcakes, along with sprinkles, can go to heck. What I like I a good SLICE of blimey CAKE on a PLATE! With a FORK! Wow. Wanna get me riled up? Just start talking cupcake smack. Blech again. UGh. Sorry. Walking it off.

I now will let you eat cake.

Green Velvet Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream adapted from 75th Anniversary The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
For the Cake:
2 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (which means sift a bunch first, then measure it)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
1/4 cup powdered buttermilk (or whatever your brand says is the equivalent to one cup of buttermilk-if you have real buttermilk you can leave this out)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs, whisked together
1 tsp. vanilla, whisked with the eggs
1 cup water (or, if you left out the powdered buttermilk, use real buttermilk here and don’t try to use regular milk-it lacks the acidity you need)
about a Tbsp. food coloring
For the Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
2-3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream
Get all your ingredients out of the fridge, you want them around 70 degrees before starting. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray, or butter them.
For the cake:
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk powder (if using) and cocoa powder.

Beat the butter until it is good and creamy. Keep the speed high and slowly add in the sugar. Make sure it is nice and fluffy before proceeding. Slowly beat in the eggs and vanilla. Now turn your mixer to low. Beat in a third of the flour mixture, then half of the water or buttermilk and all the food coloring-I just dripped in the color until I was satisfied with how it looked. Then beat in another third of the flour mixture and the second half of the water. You may need to scrape down the bowl some. Beat in the last third of the flour. Beat it good. Divide it between the pans and bake 25-35 minutes. You may want to rotate the pans in the oven midway to so they cook evenly. You know your cake is done when a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Well there may be a crumb or two, you just don’t want it coated in batter. Start testing early because you really don’t want to over bake this.
For the frosting:
Beat the butter until fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar carefully. No sugar blizzards please. Beat in the irish cream until you have a nice consistency.
Once the cake is cooled, ya frost. Yeah cake.

Chocolate Pecan Tart

24 Jun

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Seeing as the next of my epic pie parties is scheduled for next month and I still haven’t given you the tart recipe from the last one (although I more than repaid you in giving the horchata cocktail, methinks) I thought it was high time to post this.

Acting is getting busy AGAIN! Just look at my star ranking, haha. Super.

Exciting Moment in Improv

Exciting Moment in Improv

Between acting and improv (which as you see from above frequently ends with me splayed out on the floor) and this lil’ column I’ve got my hands full. You should click all those links. Because the other thing keeping me so busy is self-promotion. Haha, again. Sort of. I jest. Or do I? Even I do not know.

So let us discuss the edibles. This pie is like a giant hunk of candy. It looks pretty, it tastes like dark sunshine (the kind with antioxidants) and is much easier than you would surmise. It is one of those things I made on a whim first when I was probably not even a teen yet. If I recall correctly we bought just enough cream to make it. My dad was helping me and the two of us burnt the cream. We had to wait until we could go back to the store the next day and get more cream to finish it.

But it was so blimey good I’ve held on to and repeated the recipe many a time since the Great Cream Incident of Nine-ty Something-or-Another.

Do make this. Don’t be me and get behind on your pie. It’s important.

Chocolate Pecan Tart adapted from Bon Appetit (from their RSVP section so they got it from a restaurant I know not any longer which one though because I wrote it down and tossed the magazine long ago)
2 cups pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, room temp
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
8 oz. Bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. Semisweet chocolate
Heat oven to 325. In a food processor blend nuts, sugar and cinnamon until finely ground. Add butter and blend until mixed. Press into a 9-inch tart pan with a re moveable bottom or follow my lead and line a 9-inch pan with foil so you can lift out and unmold your tart later. Bake until lightly browned, around 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Chop chocolate. Bring cream and cinnamon stick to a simmer. Stir in chocolate until melted. Pour into tart crust, removing cinnamon stick. Put in fridge to chill. Unmold before serving.

Too darned good again, I never learn my lesson

1 Jun

IMG_2468I initially made the basis for today’s edibles when I had just delved into the sordid underbelly of food blogs. Hence the shabbier than shabby pictures, and lack of recipes in many of my early posts.
My friend Maurice lived for those cakes, which originally were made with potato. He is an awesome friend. Also my acting partner in crime as we get together and help each other prep for auditions and such. Then we don’t feel so alone like the tortured artists we are. Ennui, etc…Being as such, I will make (almost) anything for him. And I let him finish the original batch of these cakes. I should have made more, as he kept asking for the “things with kelp”. He is now more than well schooled in kale, fortunately or not.
I didn’t get a chance to share my butternut squash version of these with him because again, they were TOO DARNED delicious and I devoured them all.
Butternut Kale Cakes adapted from this recipe in the January 2011 Bon Appetit
For Cakes:
1 cup cooked, mashed butternut squash
2 tsp. butter
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper to taste
olive oil spray
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp. minced garlic (I used jarred)
8 lacinato kale leaves, cleaned, stemmed, and chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1 tsp. dried powdered thyme
dash nutmeg
For Rouille:
1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
Heaping dashes of cayenne and paprika OR Sriracha
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Mash up the squash with the buttah, 1/4 tsp. salt, and some pepper. Heat olive oil spray over medium then sauté the onion until softened. Add kale, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, and sage and sauté until the kale is wilted and all liquid has evaporated. Stir into the squash with the thyme, nutmeg, and more pepper if you like. Allow to rest for about 20 minutes and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 20 minutes on one side then gently flip and cook 20-30 minutes more. These are delicate. If you like broil for maybe one minute to get a bit crispy on the outside. Meanwhile, thoroughly mix up rouille ingredients. That was difficult. Hot or cold, these are grand.

Pie parties, horchata cocktails, and what the hell am I doing?

8 Apr

Goth-chata

Goth-chata

Firstly, I devised the horchata cocktail. Me. Moi. Then literally a few weeks after I came up with it the recipe I’m going to share, a new trendy restaurant called Gracias Madre opened and everyone is talking about their horchata cocktail. But mine is better. And…goth-er. Which is to say I made my own horchata OUT OF BLACK RICE.

I devised the horchata cocktail for a pie party. Details to follow the following brain hemorrhage:

In between planning amazing pie parties like the one I shall regale you with tales of, I am pretty busy as an actor. I’ve been having a boatload of improv shows every
week, but in between all the performing I see the rest of the world, the people with real jobs wondering what the heck I do all day. And when asked on the spot I stammer and can’t quite remember it all because it’s a lot and so I come off as…I dunno. A not-busy person. God forbid. So I’m gonna tell you today’s activities (which now was a week ago). First off, I open up my laptop and email like a madwoman. Then I check the breakdowns to submit myself for roles that if I’m lucky I get called in to audition for. After fielding my email the breakdowns are my first stop. I go back to email and breakdowns a dozen times a day. Then I had an audition. This one was not too far, and it was in the golden hour when traffic is less horrible, so it didn’t take long. But between traffic and depending on how behind the casting office is running, an audition will bite several hours out of your day. Not counting all the prep time for it. After my audition I worked on scripts for another couple of upcoming auditions. What’s my motivation? No, really. What is it? Then I researched agents (I’m trying to find a new one) and wrote the perfect cover letter to send to one particular agent. This took a while. More work on scripts. What are my obstacles? Then I worked on the column I write for Hello Giggles. Then I updated my website with info on upcoming shows I’m doing and who my manager is because it just changed. Then I got in touch with a headshot photographer because I need new shots. Next I need to put the finishing touches on a pilot script I want to enter in a contest. And then I get to have late night coffee or who-am-I-kidding wine with a friend I want to collaborate with on a project. Because in LA your friends and the people you work are often one and the same. Which is both good and bad. Many evenings I’d be headed off to a class or a workshop or a practice or to do a show (after which there may or may not be wine) but tonight I get to skip to the wine.
And that, folks, is how I have “no job”.

And of course, there are the pie parties.

The last one was “Dark Side of the Pie” and took place right after Valentine’s Day as a palate cleanser. I made horchata with black rice, and designed a cocktail using it. I made a dark chocolate tart (recipe to come at a later date). Because I am still trying to perfect a southwest potato pie I made that but used purple potatoes to add some darkness. Guests were instructed to try to where black and red. Not all my friends came through on the attire, but many did bring red wines with delightfully goth labels.

It was pretty swell. Really, I am not sure where I’d be without my friends. Either slightly crazier or saner?

This cocktail had two variations for the party, but my friend Joel brought me a bottle of cinnamon liqueur that I later plan to use to create a third variation. Cinnamon liqueur was probably invented for the purpose of boozifying horchata.

Cocktails from the Dark Side: Amaretto and Chocolate
For horchata (adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe here)
2/3 cups black rice, ground in the blender
3 cups warm water
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups almond milk (chocolate almond milk for the Kahlua version)
Soak the rice and cinnamon in water for a minimum of eight hours in the fridge. Remove cinnamon. Stick an immersion blender in there and blend more. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth twice. Add sugar and milk. Refrigerate.
For cocktail:
1 oz. black rice horchata
1 oz. rum (light or spiced, take your pick)
3/4 oz. amaretto (or 1/2 oz. Kahlua if you made the horchata with chocolate almond milk)
a few dashes of chocolate chili bitters
cinnamon to garnish
Shake all except the cinnamon up. Strain over one giant cube. Garnish with cinnamon. Sigh in delight. Then sigh with great melodramatic tones. Nowwwwwww you’re doing goth right.

Thyme and Thyme Again AGAIN

21 Feb

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I first posted my version of this Bon Appetit recipe for Sunnyside Up Eggs with Mustard Creamed Spinach and Crispy Crumbs on the Gruel back when I started the blog. That was when I was using the Gruel largely as a way to keep track of the recipes I tried. My photography was even more terrible than it is now.
I remember loving this recipe, and thought it was a timely time for a recipe with thyme. And time for a recipe redo. With better pictures. And I will actually type out the recipe for what I made. Glory! Fun times. Good thyme. And I added some more spiciness.

Plus a version that is chilled and mixed with a chopped hard-boiled egg. Sort of an egg-vegetable-panzanella type thang.

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I like that variation with some salsa or tomato sauce on the side. And truffle salt makes anything amazing. It’s almost cheating.
I am up to all sorts of nefarious acting and writing and writing for acting projects I must go work on so I am not going to go on. But just know that busy as I am, I made time for you. And thyme for you. Times two.
Kisses, dahhhlings!
Sunnyside Up Eggs on Spicy Mustard Creamed Spinach with Crispy Crumbs adapted from Bon Appetit and the Panzanella Variation
1 slice of wheat bread, crumbled roughly
olive oil spray
5 tsp. wasabi mustard, divided
1 bunch flat leaf spinach, washed and loosely chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped canned green chiles
3 Tbsp. plain almond milk
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. powdered dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, one to be fried or poached, one already hard-boiled
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spritz the breadcrumbs with olive oil and toss with 2 tsp. of the mustard. Spread on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 5-8 minutes.
Add a bit of water to a large pan and sauté the spinach just to wilt it. Take off heat and squeeze extra water out. Put in a small saucepan with the remaining mustard, green chilis, almond milk and thyme. Stir until medium heat until thick. Crank in some fresh pepper.
Now the fun. Divide both the spinach and crumbs in half adding half of each to a bowl with the chopped hard-boiled egg. Mix that and stick in the fridge to chill. Take the other half of the spinach mix, reheat as necessary. meanwhile, fry that egg. Toss the egg on top of the spinach then crumble on the crumb-age. Who knew you had thyme and time for two dishes?

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