Monday, April 27, 2009

fiddle me this

one of the more peculiar and elusive vegetables of the spring harvest, fiddlehead ferns get their name due to the resemblance they bear to the scroll of a violin. the "fiddlehead" stage is common to all fern species, and refers to the unfurled fronds of a young plant. although alien in appearance, these little critters are actually rather ubiquitous all over the world. in north america, the most popular species harvested for human consumption is the ostrich fern. fiddleheads should NOT be eaten raw, as they contain shikimic acid that is bitter and may lead to stomach issues if not properly neutralized by the application of heat. several online resources recommend blanching fiddleheads in boiling water for 8-10 minutes, however, i only blanched mine for about 5 minutes and i'm still standing.

the flavor profile is something along the lines of a shot of asparagus with a wheatgrass chaser. i didn't do much with them on this run because i just wanted to get a feel for their flavor. next time i'm going to take it to the next level and hit them with some high heat, butter and lemon zest after a quick blanch.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Monday, April 20, 2009


confections aren't really my thing, but combine a lazy sunday afternoon with a sudden sweet tooth and i soon found myself on a hunt for a proper VEGAN cookie recipe. i've had a jar of carob molasses on hand for a while - i usually drizzle it over cottage cheese - i figured this would be a great way to get some culinary millage out of this peculiar product. i suspect you could use any type of molasses in this recipe, but i find that the carob adds a level of sophistication.

i trolled the interwebs for a bit until i found a suitable recipe, then i man-handled it to better suit my needs. the resulting recipe follows. it works and it makes mouths happy.

Chewy Carob Molasses Cookies
yield 1 dozen

1 cup plus 2 TBS AP flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
6 TBS vegetable oil
2 TBS carob molasses
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated and drained
2 TBS unsweetened apple sauce, drained THEN measured *

1/4 cup raisins
raw sugar, for garnish

-- preheat the oven to 325.

* to drain the ginger and apple sauce, rig a tall glass with two sheets of paper towel, secured by a hair tie. add about 4 TBS of apple sauce and the ginger. let stand for an hour in the fridge. like so:

1. in a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, clove, and salt.

2. in another mixing bowl, combine the "wet" ingredients: brown sugar, vegetable oil, molasses, vanilla, ginger and apple sauce.

3. add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix well to combine. add raisins, mix to combine.

4. use a tablespoon to portion the cookie dough on an ungreased cookie sheet or silpat. space the mounds about 2 1/2 inches apart and sprinkle with raw sugar.

5. bake for 16-18 minutes. remove from the oven and allow to rest until the cookies firm up enough to handle; about 5 mins. remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool the rest of the way.

the cookies will be way soft at first, but they will turn out fine -- i promise.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Woori Wednesday!

"Woorijip" translates to, "Our House", and rightly so, as i imagine this is what it's like having a live-in korean grandmother -- hot soup on the stove, warm food in the oven, and leftovers in the fridge.

12 W 32nd Street (b/w 5th Ave. & B'way)

New York, NY 10001


take a step inside and you'll find yourself flanked by a hot buffet, teaming with korean staples such as bulgogi and dukbokki (hot & spicy rice cake); a soup bar, serving up tasty ramen; "incubators" keeping warm pre-made korean goodies to-go; and walls of refrigerators housing various vegetable creations and kimbap (korean sushi).

for about $6, the pre-packaged meals are a steal, however, be weary of the hot buffet, as it is easy to run up a tab. the food quality is +/- average, depending on the time and the day; lunch draws an overwhelming crowd but has the freshest food -- come later in the day and you might beat the crowds, however, freshness will be compromised.

the bold and pungent flavors championed by korean cuisine issue cravings like no other. Woorijip's endlessly diverse menu always has what I need to quell my appetite, it is so diverse (and cheap), in fact, that it kept a friend and i coming back every wednesday for a year and half for our Woori Wednesday fix.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Sunday, April 12, 2009

what's that smell?

you couldn't tell by the weather, but spring is here. for the culinarily inclined, spring is the harbinger of lighter recipes: grilling instead of braising, salads instead of soups, and seasonal green vegetables instead of root tubers. taking advantage of yummy spring veggies is my favorite perk; artichokes, fava beans, asparagus, and RAMPS - just to name a few. asparagas is my go-to spring veg, as it is readily available, affordable and easy to prepare (which is more than i can say about artichokes!).

it's kind of embarrassing that i don't have a risotto recipe posted 'round these parts. consider this killing two birds with one stone.

Asparagus Risotto
serves 4

1 # asparagus, trimmed and cut into one-inch-long pieces, tips reserved
6 - 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt to taste

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
2 TBS butter (optional)

1. in a large pot, bring stock to a boil. add asparagus tips and cook for 1-2 minutes until bright green, remove and shock in an ice bath; reserve. add the remaining asparagus and cook until tender; about 4-6 minutes, remove and shock in an ice bath. put cooked asparagus stalks into a food processor with enough cooking liquid to get things whirring; puree and reserve.

-- leave the stock on the stock and keep it HOT; just under a boil.

2. heat the olive oil in a deep sauce pan over medium heat. sweat out the shallots but don't caramelize; about 3-5 minutes. add rice and cook until glossy but NOT BURNT; about 2-3 minutes. add the white wine and cook until it reduces almost completely.

3. time to add the stock. add enough stock to cover the rice by about an inch; cook, STIRRING CONSTANTLY, until reduced by about 80%. repeat this process two more times; after the third addition of stock, taste for doneness - the rice should be soft, but still stick to the teeth. odds are, you'll need one more addition of stock, add about half as much as the prior additions; about 1/4 cup.

4. the whole process usually takes between 15-20 minutes. taste the risotto once again after the fourth stock addition, if the rice is cooked to your liking, add 1/2 cup of the asparagus puree and the reserved asparagus tips; cook until well incorporated. if you want softer rice, add a fifth addition of stock, again about 1/4 cup then proceed with the recipe.

-- at this point you can either serve as is or add some grated cheese and butter for a creamier, more indulgent dish.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Monday, April 6, 2009

spaghetti & meat-less balls

the other day i was jonesing for some traditional red-sauce italian fare. the novel idea of utilizing mock meat in an otherwise conventional dish inspired me to prepare a recipe that i would usually scoff at: spaghetti & meatballs.

whole wheat pasta and "Quorn" brand meatless meatballs transform this otherwise indulgent meal into a guilt-free experiment in vegetarian cuisine. i'd be lying if i said that the "meatballs" were were good, however, they were palatable enough to secure this dish a position on my vegetarian recipe roster.

Vegetarian Spaghetti & "Meatballs"
serves 2

2 cups BASIC tomato sauce*
1 (10.6oz) bag of Quorn meatless meatballs
1/2 # Healthy Harvest whole wheat spaghetti

1. heat the BASIC in a medium sauce pan. bring up to a boil, add Quorn meatballs and reduce to a simmer. simmer for 15 minutes until "meatballs" are heated through.

2. cook pasta in boiling salted water according to instructions.

3. drain the pasta and toss with the red sauce and "meatballs".

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -