corneliu baba and vegetable egg fried rice

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corneliu baba, a household name in romania is not as well known further west. the 20th century painter unfashionably yet consciously worked in the tradition of the masters. specifically citing el greco, rembrandt and goya as strong influences. although baba is best known for his impressionistic portraits, the subtle puissance of his still lifes alludes to the vigor of his practice and strength in technique. corneliu baba's perspicacious paintings have inspired a sensational vegetable egg fried rice. 

serves four

prep time: 30 min. 

cook time: 30 min.

total: 60 min.

 

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ingredients: 

  • 1 cup of cooked rice 
  • 1/2 of an onion 
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sriracha (or to taste)
  • 2 peppers 
  • 1/4 cup of chopped carrots 
  • 1 cup of chopped broccoli
  • cilantro for garnish
  • 1/2 cup of corn 
  • 5 teaspoons of peanut oil
  • 2 eggs

directions:

  • preheat oven to 350F

  • prepare a flat pan for the oven, place chopped carrots, broccoli, corn and peppers on the pan

  • garnish the vegetables with 2 teaspoons of peanut oil, 1 teaspoon of garlic and 1/2 a teaspoon of crushed red pepper.

  • bake vegetables for 15 min.

  • while the vegetables are in the oven, prepare a large frying pan on the stovetop.

  • heat 1 teaspoon of peanut oil in the pan on medium heat

  • add onions to pan, let them simmer for 2 min.

  • add 1/2 cup of cooked rice and fry with the oil for 5 min.

  • add 2 teaspoons of peanut oil and add the eggs to the pan, fry the eggs in the pan and mix well with fried rice.

  • when eggs are cooked, add soy sauce, sriracha, garlic and crushed red pepper and all of the vegetables.

  • let everything simmer until the sauces have been absorbed completely by the rice and vegetables. 

  • garnish the rice with cilantro, and it's ready to serve!

earth day

today marks the 44th anniversary of earth day. i'm of the opinion that earth day should be every day, maybe even an allocated hour every day. but for now, a day of the year will suffice.

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for the past couple of years, earth day has been working as a reminder/start date for me. i'm always searching for ways to reduce my carbon foot print, and as earth day approaches every year, the ticker starts going off in my head, what steps can i take this year? this year, i'm ecstatic about composting and making some basic adjustments to my lifestyle! 

as inspired as i've been, i put together this graphic about earth day and eating sustainably! 

march madness & lots of cake.

march is always a very busy month at 212. it kicks off with my parents anniversary! (yay!!) lots of birthdays, lots of celebrations and lots of fun. it's also been incredibly hectic, i had a bit of an accident. hence the lack of posts recently. but fret not, all is well. and i'm back! :) (woohoo)

every year for nick's (my boo) birthday i make an american flag cake. this year it was a double flag cake. on top of the cake and inside! what a process. i was inspired by this sugar turn tables recipe.

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i've been busy making cakes, what fun! three birthday cakes in two weeks. all along with work, life and accidents, whoops. i made a special cake for my friend cici who is undoubtedly one of the most wonderful people i have had the pleasure to get to know. i put together a simple pound cake (recipe to come) with home made vanilla frosting topped with raspberries and blueberries. and for my lovely & inspirational (bestie) elizabeth, i made a hazelnut brownie cake topped with vanilla frosting and raspberries. 

pablo picasso's blue period & blueberry yogurt muffins

winter blues. i've been seeing allot of blue. i've been feeling blue. everything seems blue.  

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after a lovely trip to the metropolitan museum of art. nicholas (my boo), nafisa (my bestie) and picasso (the one and only) inspired this pairing of picasso's blue period with blueberry yogurt muffins.  

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pablo picasso's somber blue paintings guised with melancholy affirm themes of loneliness, isolation, poverty and despair. while you examine the depths of this period in picasso's career pair it with some of the subtle sweetness, moist texture and rich flavors of the blueberry yogurt muffins.

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blueberry yogurt muffins

yields: 12 muffins

prep time: 10 min

cook time: 30- 40min

total time: 40 min

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ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup of greek yogurt

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon+ lemon zest, optional

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 2 cups of blueberries (you could also use frozen)

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directions: 

  • preheat oven to 350F

  • in a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil, lemon zest, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.

  • add the flour, baking powder, and mix until just combined.

  • fold in 2 cups of blueberries and gently stir to incorporate (frozen blueberries bleed and run less than fresh and if using frozen do not thaw them first; add them directly into the batter frozen; alternate berries or other seasonal fruit such as strawberries, peaches, pears, or plums may be substituted)

  • pour batter into muffin pan.  

  • bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until top is lightly brown and set.(or a toothpick comes out clean,

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<3 Hazelnut Cookies

valentines day (!) despite it's hallmark stamp has always been a very special holiday for me. as a kid, i was often in between traditions, but valentines day was especially exciting.  there was a shared enthusiasm both in school and at home! the little things in life bring so much joy and much of mine came via my mum and lala. (in urdu the word for mothers sister is khala, i lost the k somewhere & since it's been lala!) my lala would send send me elaborate cards (some were even embroidered) this was my favorite winter tradition. the week before and after valentines day, i would wait for the post and when it arrived, the smiles were wide and the excitement lasted for weeks.  share some love with this quick and simple hazelnut cookie recipe!

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prep time: 10 min

cook time: 10- 12min

yields: 10-12 cookies

ingredients:

  • 1 cup of your choice of hazelnut spread (i used nutella!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of flour 

 

directions:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • line a baking pan with a strip of parchment paper.
  • in a mixing bowl, combine the nutella, eggs and flour. 
  • make shapes of the batter and set the cookie batter to bake for 6 min
  • depending on the density of the cookies and your preference adjust the remaining time.
  • voila (!) delicious and easy cookies.
  • add jam/jelly preserves or ice cream as a topping! (i used a raspberry-lemon preserve i had on hand.)
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chocolate chip banana muffins

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muffins complete me. you can have them for breakfast, as a snack and my fav: add some ice cream and you've got dessert. mama bear had some bananas lying around that were ready to be baked, i had been craving banana bread and so my chocolate chip banana muffins came to life. 

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prep time: 15 min

cook time: 1 hr

yields: 12 muffins

ingredients: 

  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

directions:

  • preheat the oven to 350° F
  • in a bowl, mix butter and mashed bananas 
  • add in sugar, egg and vanilla
  • sprinkle the baking soda and salt
  • mix in the chocolate chips
  • pour mixture into muffin tray
  • bake for 1 hr
  • cool and serve!
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martin parr's "life's a beach" & raspberry-lemon bars

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in the midst of this cold winter, i've started to reminisce about summer days, bathing suits and breezy seaside swims. martin parr's "life's a beach" is an ode to the stellar absurdities and local quirks of beach culture around the world. a renowned satirist of contemporary life, parr's obsession and decades of commitment to life under the sun prevail on these cold days. with parr's "life's a beach" in hand i present to you a recipe that will bring you back to those summer days and give you the high you need to get through this winter (!) raspberry-lemon bars!

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  • prep time: 20-30 min.
  • cook time: 60 min.
  • total time: 1 hour and 30 min.

ingredients:

for the crust:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt

for the filling:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of raspberries
  • 1 cup of sugar (your choice of sweetener)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1.5 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoons lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 1/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
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directions:

for the crust:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • line a 8×8″ square baking pan with a strip of parchment paper that covers the bottom and overlaps on either side (this is so after it cools, you can pull out the entire pan of lime bars and cut them neatly).
  • cream butter, sugar, and salt with an electric mixer. mix in flour until just incorporated. 
  • flour hands and press dough into 8×8″ square baking pan, so that it comes up about a 1/2 inch around the sides.
  • bake for 20-25 minutes, or until slightly golden brown.
  • while it cools, prepare the filling.

for the filling:

  • whisk sugar, egg whites, egg, lemon juice and zest, flour, and salt in a large bowl. 
  • pour raspberries into a sieve and press
  • whisk into lemon mixture and pour into crust
  • bake for 30-35 minutes until filling is completely set.
  • let the dessert cool completely
  • place in the fridge to chill.
  • when chilled, use the overlapping edges of parchment paper to gently lift the dessert from the pan. 
  • cut into desired shapes/bars.

spicy honey bbq tofu

the super bowl is this weekend and i couldn't be more excited. i'm not much of a football fan but i love the spirit of the super bowl, the anticipation, the communal bonding, and obviously the food. it is estimated that americans will eat 1.25 billion wings during this years super bowl on february 2 reports the national chicken council. if you are looking for something different, try my spicy honey bbq tofu. 

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  • prep time: 20 min
  • cook time: 20 min

ingredients:

  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed (to press, place the tofu block on a plate and cover with a few paper towels or a clean kitchen towel then place a heavy pan on top of the towel for at least 30 minutes.)
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • salt and ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons of sriracha (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup of bbq sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
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super bowl sunday is the second-largest day for u.s. food consumption after thanksgiving day. 

directions:

  • preheat the oven to 350°F
  • line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • heat 1½ tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat
  • add the cornstarch, garlic and salt and pepper to the tofu in a small bowl and toss to coat
  • add the tofu to the skillet and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.
  • while the tofu is cooking: heat 1½ tablespoon of oil in a skillet on medium heat: combine the honey, sriracha, bbq sauce and lime juice, bring to a boil; simmer until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes.
  • when the tofu is cooked add it into the honey bbq sauce, mix well and let the tofu simmer for a min. 
  • place the mixed tofu on the parchment let it bake for two min and then broil for 2-5 min. (till the tofu starts to crisp.)
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peter paul rubens inspired chocolate beet cupcakes with grape buttercream icing

my boo has taken up drawing recently. let me explain: he spends sundays enveloped in studying old masters paintings and at least once a week will set his alarm for 4:30 am, at which time he will sit at our table and draw for an hour before he goes off to work. the passion is infective. i was flipping through a book of peter paul rubens work and it hit me. chocolate beet cupcakes! inspired, i started baking immediately and thinking about the light, texture and contrast examined in rubens paintings. i wanted to make a frosting that would ignite those elements and voila (!) grape buttercream frosting.  

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  • prep time: 20 min
  • cook time: 30 min
  • total time: 1hr 30

makes 18 cupcakes

cupcake ingredients: 

  • Oil and flour for preparing the pan
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup mild flavored vegetable oil
  • eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar (or your favorite natural sweetener)

  • 2 cups cooked pureed beets (3 medium beets)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

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grape butter cream frosting ingredients:

  • 1 cup of heavy cream

  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of melted unsalted  butter
  • 2 tbsp of grape jam/jelly
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp of brown sugar

directions:

  • whip butter and sugar until fluffy, slowly add in cream,vanilla,jam,and cinnamon, whip for 2 min, make sure all ingredients are mixed well and frosting is fluffy.  

directions:

  •  preheat oven to 375 F degrees. 

  •  partially fill the bottom of a double boiler with water and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to simmer. put the chocolate and 1/4 cup of the oil in the top of the double boiler, (**very important to put the chocolate and oil into the pot at the same time!**) heat until just the chocolate melts; remove from the heat and stir until well combined.

  •  Combine the and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly beat in the remaining 3/4 cup oil, chocolate mixture, beets, and vanilla.

  • sift the all-purpose flour into a large bowl. stir in the baking soda and salt. gently stir the flour mixture into the egg and chocolate mixture just until the flour is mixed in. pour batter into cupcake pan.

  •  bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

  •  carefully remove cake from the pan and let cool on a rack. when completely cool, dust with powdered sugar. 

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chili sin carne (vegetarian chili)

it's been a wonderful winter! cold with lots of snow and warm food. tis the season for soups and stews. chili has become a go to winter recipe for me. the recipe is simple, packed with flavor and keeps well. go figure, i'm not the first to notice that chili keeps well: on the american frontier settlers often brought chili with them for the trip. before traveling the chili was dried into bricks and could easily be heated on the road.

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ingredients: 

  • 2 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium red skinned onion, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 cup of vegetable stock/broth or pale beer 
  • 1 can of crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1  can of black beans
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of corn 
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

toppings:

  • chopped scallions, whites and greens 
  • 2 cups shredded spicy monterey jack (your preference)
  • corn tortilla chips (your preference)
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prep time: 10 min

cook time: 23- 30 min

total time: 40 min

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directions: 

  • over moderate heat, add oil to a deep pot and combine onion, peppers, and garlic. saute for 3 to 5 minutes to soften vegetables.
  • deglaze pan with broth, add tomatoes, black beans, red kidney beans, and stirring to combine.
  • season with cumin, chili powder, hot sauce,& salt.
  • thicken chili by using a potato masher to mash the beans.
  • simmer over low heat about 5 min
  • stir in the corn to the chili, let the chili simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  • serve bowls of chili and top with chopped scallions. (add cheese and tortillas if you so choose!)
  • voila! bon appétit!

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"baby, it's cold outside."  "lets take some selfies as we snuggle in our warm coats!"

"baby, it's cold outside."  "lets take some selfies as we snuggle in our warm coats!"

a spicy scallion scramble with apple sauce

lots of eggs, any day and any way is my breakfast motto. a weekday breakfast for me needs to be three things, simple, delicious and filling. this recipe is just that.

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prep time: 5 min

cook time: 5 min

total time: 10 min 


ingredients: 

2 eggs

1 teaspoon of butter 

1 teaspoon of milk 

sriracha (to taste)

1/2 a tablespoon of diced scallions

a tablespoon of applesauce 

instructions:

1. scramble eggs and milk in a bowl

2. in a small frying pan heat the butter, add the eggs, 1/2 of the scallions. fry for about one min.

3. serve the eggs and top with applesauce, sriracha and rest of scallions to taste.

4. add salt and pepper to taste and voila! 


tart applesauce

apples, apples, and apples.                                                                                                                                        

i can't get enough.

recently, i have taken a liking to making sauces, jams and jelly.  apples are delectable. so, i decided to start with some apple sauce. 

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did you know  --?!  apple trees originated in central asia, where its ancestor malus sieversii can still be found today. thousands of years ago the trees spread across asia,  making it to europe and eventually reaching  the americas courtesy of european colonizers.

the apple has been a commonly used symbol in many cultures. in norse mythology the goddess iðunn gifted apples to the gods to help them retain their eternal youthfulness. similarly, in greek mythology apples signify a forbidden fruit that often referred to beauty, sexuality, exclusivity and love. and in the saga of adam and eve, it is alluded that the apple is the forbidden fruit that eve coaxed adam to share with her.  

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ingredients:

2 granny smith apples

2 red delicious or gala apples

1 lemon (adjust to taste)

1/4 cup of honey (or your preferred sweetener)

1 table spoon of cinnamon

2 cinnamon sticks 

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

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prep time: 15 min

cook time: 40 min

total time: 55 min


instructions:

1.  fill up a medium sized pot with water halfway and set to boil

2. quarter your apples with the skin on them

3. boil the apples for twenty min, or until cooked 

4. juice the lemons and put aside

5. drain the cooked apples and put them in a blender, puree until you are satisfied.

6. put the apple sauce back in the pot

7. add the lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg into the sauce, mix well. 

8. once all spices are added, let it cook for another 10- 15 min

9. let cool and enjoy! 

click here for a great reference on how to properly can your different foods.

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chai

chai holds a very special place in my heart. nothing in the world can compare to a good cup of chai. my earliest memories of loving food include three things: my nanabu (maternal grandfather), chai, and watermelon. when i was a little bug visiting my mums family in pakistan, my nanabu would take me with him to run his daily errands around lahore. this would include meetings, checking in on his printing press, and my favorite part, stopping in at his chai dhabba. picture this: a small hut on the side of the road surrounded by shrubbery and lined with picnic benches, where men from all walks of life gathered for a bowl (yes bowl, not cup) of chai.  i wasn't allowed to drink chai at home but my nanabu would let me sip alongside him. it was the best feeling in the world! i was given a seat at the table, respected, and allowed to sip on some tea. what more could a curious 6 year old ask for?

the word 'chai', like many of the eurasian words for tea, derives from the persian term chay which is from the mandarin word  茶 chá. 

 

for 4 cups of chai:

ingredients:

4 tablespoons of your preffered black tea 

4 cardamom pods

2 cinnamon sticks

3 1/2 cups of water

1 cup of milk / condensed milk or your preference of a milk substitute.

your natural sweetener preference to taste


instructions:

1. in a sauce pan boil four cups of water

2. add tea, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks to the boiling water

3. when tea starts to boil, add milk, watch over the pot,

4. as soon as the milk boils, your chai is ready to serve! (add your choice of sweetener as you serve)

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excited

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aaaw!  hello everybody! with a healthy serving of excitement and a pinch of nerves, i welcome you to a table for two at 212.

the name a table for two at 212 is derived from 2 things:  my table seats 2 (most of the time just me and my boo) and i live at 212 XXst Street. 

what you can expect: delicious and easy to make recipes, along with inspiring art. food+art= a table for two at 212.