Sweet rolls are good for you

Dear Reader,

This is Manface.  Recently, some people have been giving me “constructive criticism” about my penchant to only post nummy baked goods on this “healthy” food blog.  To those poor, misguided souls, I say, “Fuck you*.” Righteously, I declare that psychological health is just as important as physical health, and apple-cardamom sweet rolls make us happy.  The moist, fluffy dough; the sticky brown sugar salt caramel; the subtle, mysterious, oaky tang of the cardamom; the anticipatory rush of saliva as you smell them emerging from the oven all make for one of the most joyous, sensual and life-affirming moments of the week.

These rolls, which can be easily adapted to any flavor combination (we tried orange marzipan with toasted almonds a few days ago, perhaps next week we will try prosciutto, pear, gorgonzola), take more time to eat than to make.  Start with this brioche recipe, then, instead of shaping it into little squat snowpeople, roll it into a rectangle about 1/3″ thick.  Sprinkle or smear one side with your filling concoction (a basic mix is 4T melted butter + 1/4 cup brown sugar + some spices and/or nuts and/or fruit — you can also make extra to put in the bottom of your pan to make a sticky topping instead of frosting them). Next, roll it like Morton would. Then, cut the roll into 1 – 2″ rounds, and flip them into a high-walled pan to rise.  Cover them, and after some time (depends on how fluffy you want them, or whether or not the potatoes for the frittata are almost done), toss them into a 350F oven.

Pull ’em out with your mittens after about 35 min.  Frost if desired. Consume with joy.

*Perhaps this expression of my position is not as nuanced as it could be.  I blame the medium.  I accept that there are some situations where this hedonistic attitude could lead one into trouble.  I’ll bet that shooting heroin makes for a good experience in the moment, but the long-lasting negative effects probably outweigh this momentary high.  If you are addicted to sweet rolls, or any type of nummy pastries (not functionally addicted, but to the point where your need to consume croissants is interfering with your job or social life), I suggest counselling and will work with your support network to stage an intervention.  Hey, man, I’ve been there; it’s not a way to live: always itching for the next cannoli, or thinking about where to score your next plum galette. Don’t let the sweets life eat you up!


Mushroom tart and winter endive salad

I picked up the January 2012 Bon Appetit in the airport on the way back from Mexico after being sick for 5 days and only eating saltines, white bread and yogurt. I was finally feeling better and poured over the magazine, so lured by the recipes I had to bring it home with me (and then subscribe to it for only $12/year). This issue has a bunch of vegetarian recipes I want to try and great hints for cooking Thai food, like how to make fluffy rice. The first recipe everyone wanted to try was the Roasted Vegetable Tart which includes tomatoes, fennel, eggplant, bell pepper and sweet potatoes. We didn’t have those ingredients at home though so here is what came out:

Pastry (total time: about 1 hour, start this first)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 10 tbsp (1 and 1/4 sticks) ice cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes

Pulse 2 cups of flour, salt, sugar in a food processor. Add butter, pulse until corase meal with pea-size lumps. (Try not put the wrong blade attachment–look for the one that says “pastry” or “dough”). Drizzle 4 tbsp ice water over mixture. Pulse until moist clumps form adding more ice water by tblsp if dry. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Roll out disk on a lightly floured surface so it’s a little bigger than the shape of the pie dish. Transfer to dish and press onto bottom and up sides of dish. Trim overhanging dough. Place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Line dough with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans and return to oven until crust is light brown, about 20 minutes.


  • 2 small onions (that we got from Dorchester winter farmers market)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • mushrooms (any kind, I used almost 1 container of white mushrooms)
  • vegetable of choice (i used 3 small zucchini but thinking back may have used tomatoes and/or asparagus instead)
  • rosemary (i tore quite a bit off our rosemary plant, add to your liking)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tblsp herbs de provence
  • parmesan cheese

Roast veggies at 350 degrees with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Sautee garlic, onion, mushrooms and herbs de provence. Mix veggies together and when the pastry is ready, fill with veggies. Mix in cream cheese until well-dispersed. Grate parmesan cheese over top. Whisk milk and eggs together and pour over veggies. Bake for 45 minutes.





Winter Endive Salad

  • 1 head belgian endive
  • a bunch of mustard greens, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 2 apples, shredded (still trying to get rid of all our apples)


  • 1 tblsp mayo
  • 1 tsp spicy mustard
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • parsley
  • oregano

Mix dressing with mustard greens, carrots, apples. Fill one spear of endive with salad mix and scoop into your mouth!

One pot winter dinner

Cooking on Thursday night can be an overwhelming prospect after a tiring week but these dishes couldn’t be easier. I was trying to think of how to chip away at the piles of apples, potatoes and onions we have and remembered my one pot lentil dish from when I lived in Chile and then found a red cabbage in the fridge.

We literrally have a pile of potatoes–red, white, different kinds of sweet potato. I grabbed a handful:










One Pot lentil curry

  • 1 big yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 5 (approx) potatoes depending on size, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 tbsp curry
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • generous ground pepper, salt to taste
Wash and chop potatoes. Sautee onions and garlic with olive oil. Add potatoes. Add lentils, curry, cumin and 1 tbsp parsley. Stir rapidly so lentils don’t burn for a few minutes. Add water until just covered with water. Turn down heat to medium-low and cook for about 30 minutes. This made enough for dinner for four and two lunches.

Then start working on braised cabbage!









Braised cabbage and apple

  • 1 red cabbage, halved, cored and cut into fourths
  • 2 apples — pink lady or granny smith, corred and cut into pieces
  • 1 smallish yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Heat butter in dutch oven. Add garlic and onion and sautee for a few minutes. Add cabbage and vegetable broth, cover, reduce heat for 15 mintutes. Add apples and cook 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar and sugar and cook 5 more minutes until cabbage is soft.

I forgot to mention that the first step of the evening was to chop of a piece of dough off of our 5-minute a day bread. Check out the recipe: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2010/02/09/back-to-basics-tips-and-techniques-to-create-a-great-loaf-in-5-minutes-a-day. This was my FIRST TIME MAKING BREAD! Manface always makes it but tonight I was completely in charge of dinner so I chopped off a piece of dough, shaped it and let it sit for 20 minutes, heated the cloche in the oven for 20 minutes and then baked the bread.









The one part of the meal I did not prepare for was desert. There were no cookies or other baked goods in our cake stand. Ice cream choices were only grapefruit sorbet or nonfat tangy frozen yogurt. Then I remembered the in the far corner of the freezer, from many many months ago…









Doesn’t look like much, but raspberry cake with lemon buttercream was a beaut in her day and was still able to get lots of yummms from both of us.

Sunday night pizza and beer

I swear I am never going out for pizza again. It is so much better at home. Easy to make and delicious. Sunday night dinners with friends are my favorite. Tonight we made pizza and salad for four.

To be honest, I didn’t measure the ingredients in the sauce. It was something similar to this: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/spanish_romesco_sauce/. The recipe here makes a lot of sauce. The first night we made the sauce we ate it with red quinoa, squash and carmelized onions. We were going to make a pizza that night but didn’t get dough started in time. So tonight, we used the sauce on pizza. So good.

Pizza with Romesco sauce, chicken sausage, mushrooms and carmelized onion

  • 1 chicken sausage
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushroom
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup romesco sauce
  • 1/4 ball of mozarella cheese
  • rosemary
  • oregano

Slice up the sausage. Put it in a plastic bag with parmesan, asagio (or I used hard salty gouda) and rosemary. Shake it up good and put aside. Spread sauce on pizza dough, then add carmelized onions, mushrooms, sausage and finally rounds of mozarella, spaced out about 1 inch between pieces (it spreads out to cover the whole thing). Sprinkle rosemary and oregano.

This recipe makes one pizza with six pretty small pieces. I ate half the pizza myself, so for four people we made two pizzas. The other was the same but without sausage and tasted delicious as well. We paired it with a Franklin Land Trust Brew by Berkshire Brewing Co out in Western, MA. The beer is part of a campaign to raise awareness about the connection between local conservation and agriculture. It’s label says, “No farms, no beer” and part of the proceeds go to Franklin Land Trust start and preserve their farms. The beer is copper with spicy hops and a small head. Tasty but also round and bold enough for the winter and sausage pizza.


Manface bakes! Not your ordinary Bran Muffin

Excited to bring you the first of many scrumptious baked goods by Manface. He has been talking about wanting to bake these Bran Muffins since I met him–saying they are the best bran muffins on the planet–probably because the recipe  comes from the beloved cafe where he worked in Reno. I interviewed Manface about why he loves this recipe:

“It reminds me of a time when life was simpler. Before cell phones, before facebook.  These ran muffins are the Hephaestus of the pantheon of muffins. They are extreme, not for the light-hearted. Duct tape, a swiss army knife, and one of these muffins would get you through a zombie invasion”.

  • 3 oz Bran
  • 11 oz Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 oz currants
  • 6 oz dates
  • 5 oz walnuts (but we used almonds because I’m allergic to walnuts)
  • 8 oz chopped pineapple with 1/2 cup juice
  • 2 chopped apples
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup molasses

Add dry ingredients together. Hand mix the wet ingredients together. Mix everything together. Makes ~18 muffins.

Manface says you have to eat them with wads of butter or peanut butter and a short double espresso. I ate mine with lowfat cottage cheese. I think I’ve had enough fiber now to last me days.

Soba noodles with nori tofu pesto, shitakes and snow peas

This was surprisingly delicious. The picture does not do it justice (i’m trying to get a hang of how to best capture food on film, hints are welcome). I was looking for something light and different from the usual and found a recipe for Tofu Nori “pesto” here: http://www.veggienumnum.com/2011/04/coriander-nori-‘pesto’-soba-w-wok-seared-greens/. I tweeked it just a bit given what I had at home and what I was craving. This makes enough pesto for a whole package of noodles but you could cook it on night two with different veggies, maybe purple cabbage, eggplant, or asparagus.

Combine in blender:

  • 2 sheets nori [roasted seaweed]
  • 1 bunch cilantro (not too big)
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • about a a block firm tofu, broken into smallish pieces
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs maple syrup

Boil 1 package of soba noodles (10-13 ounces). In a wok, heat vegetable oil and 2 minced garlic cloves. Toss snap peas, bean sprouts and shitake mushroom until browned and tender but still crispy. Add 1 tbsp sesame seeds. Toss soba noodles with pesto and serve with veggies.

We served this with tofu miso soup I had made the night before and it was warming and delicious, but left Manface craving something more indulgent:


I followed this recipe except that I forgot to set aside part of the melted chocolate for pouring on top, which was fine, it just meant that as soon as I pulled the cookies out of the oven I had the roomates help me rush to stick the pieces of candy cane into the top of the melty cookies. You NEED a glass of milk ready when you got to eat these treats.


I didn’t used to eat grapefruits. Not until I met, who for the sake of this blog will be called, Manface. Manface liked grapefruits just like me, and with him around I had someone to share it with and suddenly this food that used to too expensive or indulgent for me to consider buying and too bitter for me to eat the whole thing by myself, became an eagerly awaited-for weekend brunch treat. My favorite part about food is sharing it with other people, how it brings us together and makes other people so happy when it is good. So now with pleasure, I bring my kitchen to all of you. I bring you (mostly) healthy, local, affordable food, that is justly grown by workers who are paid a fair price. I bring you my amazingly talented roomates wisdom and creations and welcome your feedback so that we can create yummier food together. here we go!