Monday, January 19, 2009

How to Have a Great Cook-In

The first step to having a Great Cook-In is to get your significant other out of the house.  Okay, he or she can stay if they want, but if they happen to be hiking in ridiculously cold weather with their friends, and your friend comes over instead, that would be fun.  

Second, you should arrange for the weather to look like this.  

This means that a cook-out is clearly out of the question.  However, what IS the perfect way to spend the weekend is having a cook-in.  

You'll want to start out the weekend with some Saturday morning yoga (you won't be doing much other exercising).  Then you should grab your friend, and stop at the grocery store to pick up some stuff, to make sure you are fully stocked.  It'll be nice if your friend wants to help you with some recipe testing for one of Robin Robertson's upcoming cookbooks.  Lunch for our cook-in was Lemony Garlic Chickpea Patties with Handy Hummus.  

Handy Hummus

Lemony Garlic Chickpea Patties

They were meant to be served as sandwiches, but I don't really like bread, so we just ate them with some salad greens and sliced tomatoes.  We both really liked these, and also thought that they would make a good base for lots of different flavor combinations.  The hummus was great also, really nice and creamy.  

Handy Hummus; makes approximately 1 1/2 cups, Serves about 6
Nutrition Information:  193.6 Calories;  12.4g Total Fat;  1.7g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  17.2g Total Carbohydrates;  3.9g Fiber;  5.4g Protein.

Lemony Garlic Chickpea Patties; Serves 4 (not including salad greens and tomato)
Nutrition Information:  280.5 Calories; 5.9g Total Fat;  1.1g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  44.7g Carbohydrates;  5.9g Fiber;  13.3g Protein

Since this weekend is all about the food, you can spend the afternoon being pretty lazy.  After all, did you see that snow?  We watched a few episodes of Planet Earth, napped, and chilled out (in?) with her puppies.  



Then we decided we didn't want to be quite so lazy anymore, so, in keeping with the food theme, we went to the little Asian grocery/natural food store near her house, the Green Market.  The first thing I beeline for in any new store like this are the bars.  Duh.  I found something new!  I wasn't expecting to, because it is relatively small, but it really had a lot of good stuff.  

Excuse the fuzzy picture, but these are Sencha Green Tea Bars.  They're vegan and gluten free. So far I have tried Original and Delicate Pear, but I also have one of the Lemongrass variety waiting for me.  They each have about 220 Calories and 9g Protein, and are chock full of good stuff like pepitas, pistachios, black sesame seeds, dried fruits (the original had goji berries, pear in the other), almonds, matcha powder, dates, etc.  They are awesome, but I do like the pear variety better, as I'm not a huge fan of gojis.  If you ever see these, I definitely think they're worth picking up.  

If you want to involve some culinary adventure in your cook-in you should pick up something that is new to you.  We went for fruit, and brought home some quince and kumquats.  How fun!   

Upon arriving home from our second grocery stop, we decided it was dinner time, so we made the second recipe we were testing for Robin, a Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cashews and Kidney Beans.   

Serves 4
Nutrition Information:  369.3 Calories;  17.9g Total Fat;  2.6g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  44.7g Carbohydrates;  11.3g Fiber;  9.8g Protein

At first, we were kind of on the fence about this dish, but by the time were got to the end of it, we were both totally loving it.  There were a few different components, but they worked together harmoniously.  Plus, it was nice and colorful!  With that, it was time for dessert.  

If you aren't familiar with kumquats, they're a citrus.  Small, bitter, with an orange rind that is very thin, so it can be eaten if cooked slightly.  If you have ever wondered if there were cool things you could do with a kumquat, I am here to tell you that there are! 

We decided on cookies.  However, in order to make the cookies, we had to hit up the grocery store again.  Yes, count that, three times in one day.  That's kind of my idea of a good day though.  To each their own, okay?  We picked up everything we needed for some Chocolate Chip and Kumquat Oatmeal Cookies.    

Makes 12 Cookies
Nutrition Information:  136.7 Calories;  3.5g Total Fat;  1.7g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  24.4g Carbohydrates;  2.6g Fiber;  2.6g Protein  

These were completely awesome, especially right after they cooled a little out of the oven; nice and crispy on the outside and moist and fluffy on the inside.  They did make for a pretty cakey cookie, and almost looked like messy muffin tops.  I am going to try and make them again, to make them less cakey and gluten free, but it it doesn't work out, I'll post the recipe we used for these!  Soon, I promise.

A cook-in, if you aren't aware, is kind of a special occasion.  To make your cook-in truly great, you *must* have two desserts.  Since my friend had an avocado, we also made the Avocado Dark Chocolate Mousse that I posted about a few weeks ago.    

We ate dessert while watching the movie we rented:  Traitor, with Don Cheadle.  Honestly, he is fabulous, but I thought the movie was just okay.  If you haven't noticed yet, I watch a lot of movies, but I by no means claim to be a connoisseur.  I tend to like silly, lighthearted movies.

Its not the end of the post, and its not the end of the cook-in, but it is the end of the day.  Our cooking song for today was 'Nights in White Satin' - The Moody Blues.  We had a Classic Rock radio station on the TV while we were cooking.  You have to rock out while having a cook-in.    

We woke up to a lot more snow.

It continued to snow for most of the day.  This ruined our gym plans.  I mean...we were having a completely lazy cook-in so screw the gym  (I was supposed to go to the gym with her and take her on a walk through the weight room).  We did to some yoga on FitTV, which we both thought was pretty lame, but it was better than nothing.  We decided to try something with the remainder of our fruit adventure.  Today:  Quince.  

We didn't do anything quite as fun as cookies with it, but we did bake it up with some agave nectar, cinnamon, and lime juice with water at 300 degrees for 40 minutes, and 425 degrees for 10 minutes.    

Serves 2
Nutrition Information:  62.8 Calories;  0.1g Total Fat;  0.0g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  16.6g Carbohydrates;  2.1g Fiber;  0.3g Protein.  

If you've never had a quince, they're sort of inbetween an apple and  pear, although they're even grainer than pear.  Altogether they were good, but I wouldn't go out of my way to try it again.  If someone wanted to peel it, cut out that obnoxious core, and make it for me, I would eat it though.    

After this, we cleaned the whole kitchen.  This is not a necessary part of the cook-in, but chances are, you're making a mess...clean up after yourself!  

Another trip to the grocery store brought home some dinner supplies.  My friend has never had tofu, so I definitely wanted to make that.  We also got portabellos, tomatoes, kale, and some parchment paper.  Parchment paper?  Not for dinner, for the rest of the kumquats.  You want to waste as little as possible when having a cook-in (the more you can eat the better!).  

Since the rind of the kumquat is so thin and doesn't have much pith, I thought they'd be perfect for the Orangette recipe in My Sweet Vegan.  We split them in half, spooned out the flesh, which we dehydrated, and set to candying the rinds.  When both parts of the kumquats were done, we dipped them in chocolate.  

Dehydrated in the front, candied in the back

We did quite a bit of dehydrating while I was at her house, and it just made me want a dehydrator even more.  I keep saying that I want to wait until I have my own place to put it, but this is a lie.  I'll probably get one when I get another coupon for Bed Bath and Beyond or something.  Soon, hopefully.

While we were doing this, we also heated up the oven and made some Kale Chips.  I looked around the internet for this one, since I've heard varying reviews.  I don't understand why, they tasted like kale...crispy!  We both loved them.  They got tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt, and were baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  We could have also dehydrated these, but our cook-in was coming to a close.  

By the way, at this point in the cook-in you may be feeling a bit delirious and decide that your kale chips would look fabulous against a snowy white background...which you just happen to have right outside. 

I didn't take any pics of dinner.  If you are having a really great cook-in, your camera will most likely be running out of battery at this point.  Most of dinner ended up really good though.  We had roasted portabello mushrooms with balsamic and garlic, Italian marinated tofu, boiled and sauteed kale, and quinoa with pine nuts and tomato.  The quinoa was lackluster...sad.  That was okay though because like I said before, my friend was a tofu virgin, so that was where the pressure was really on.  She liked it!  Yay!  After dinner we rented The Go Getter on Demand, largely because I love Zooey Deschanel.  

So, if you ever plan a great cook-in, I hope that gives you some ideas.  We really did get a lot of snow, so I just got back this morning, hence the lack of posting on my part, and the huge lineup of posts in my reader, courtesy of many of you!  Student teaching starts tomorrow, so if I am slower at commenting and posting than usual, I apologize in advance!  

Lastly, I forgot to mention this in my last post, but your time to sign up for the Juicer Giveaway is running out!  I will be picking a winner on Thursday this week!  

I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend, hopefully a nice long one, if you get to celebrate MLK day!  


  1. Hi, So yes best weekend ever... until now. Sad our boiler is broken and we are in need of a new one. We also demo-ed our basement today and started taking out the walls and carpet. I'll let you know how it goes

  2. hahaha so much goodness i don't even know where to begin.

    firstly THAT CHICKPEA LEMONY PATTIE...share the recipe pls????

    I have been wanting to watch planet earth....i saw it on oprah sometime ago and i was like wow iloveplanetearth.

    i am not even sure if i've had kumquats...but they sound awesome.

    your dogs are sooooooooo cute!

  3. I am so jealous of your eats today!

    Love the patties, fruits, cookies, everything!!!

    I really want to find those bars now!

  4. That sounds like a lovely weekend! The chickpea patties look nice! And I so much love kumquat! My mum used to pickle them, Indian style, with turmeric and spices. It's really nice!

  5. great eats, all the food especially the cookies seem delish! the pics of the snow are lovely :) what a fun weekend

  6. Wow Gina! Love your cook-in. Sorry you had to miss out on some gym time as I know you hate that...but all those recipes sounds amazing...the hummus...roasted potatoes with cashews...those chocolate covered kumquats. I'm drooling down here in Nashville...totally drooling. Sounds like an amazing day!

    PS - I love kale chips. :)

  7. Wow, so all your cook-in food looks absolutely amazing!

    That sounds like a fun way to spend a day stuff inside : )

    Have a great Tuesday!

  8. geez woman!! that is a lot of good food!!

    first off, let me say that i took your recommendation on the vanilla chai drink and i love it!! i have a mug of it right now and i'm about to get another.

    your hummus looks awesome. if there's any food that i will never give up, it's hummus... and well, bananas haha those are good, too.

    not using shampoo on your first day of work might not be such a good idea. my hair doesn't look too bad today though. it's day 3 with no poo and i'm not complainin.

  9. Pass on the oatmeal kumquat cookie recipe! I love kumquats and think cookies would be outstanding made out of them. Thanks

  10. Great post! I loooooooooooove hummus... can't get enough of it! The pups are adorable!!!

  11. I do love me some chickpeas- Looks great!

    And I had no idea Sencha brand was making bars now... Must investigate this further.

  12. I wanna have a cook-in! That sounds like a great day, especially with all that snow. Unfortunately, we rarely ever get more than a few flurries around here. It snowed for the first time this morning, but it was over by noon with no accumulation. Blah!