June 29, 2010

CSA - Week 4

My CSA share contained garlic, pickling cucumbers, popcorn, zucchini, yellow squash, sugar snap peas, eggs, and red raspberries.

I added the peas to stir-fry, the zucchini and yellow squash to pasta, cucumbers to salad, and garlic to just about every savory dish I prepare.

Now on to the sweet stuff...

A friend who also belongs to the CSA made Caramel Corn with her popcorn. So I copied. She had the brilliant idea of adding pecans instead of peanuts. This recipe makes crunchy popcorn - not sticky at all.


Caramel Corn
from my mother

5 qts. popped popcorn
1 large jar dry-roasted peanuts (opt.)
2 sticks butter
2 c. brown sugar
½ c. light Karo syrup
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

In large pan, melt butter. Add sugar, salt and Karo syrup. Stir constantly until boils. Lower heat and boil 5 minutes. Take off heat and add ½ tsp. baking soda. Add 1 tsp. vanilla, stir. Pour over popcorn and nuts, mix. Put in deep roasting pan and bake for 1 hour at 250˚. Stir every 15 minutes.



After eating some of the delicious red raspberries raw, I had about 3/4 cup left.  I just borrowed The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz from the library, and there were several raspberry recipes to choose from.  I made Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream, which turned out tangy and rich.  I love homemade ice cream just after it's made and not quite frozen, a little soupy, like in this photo.

I made half the recipe and added a few strawberries to fill the required cup of berries.


Chocolate-Raspberry Ice Cream
from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 Tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen

Whisk together the cream, cocoa powder, and sugar in a large saucepan. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil (it will start to foam up). Remove from the heat and add the raspberries. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender. If you wish, press the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds.

Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Carrot Cake/Cupcakes

I made this classic carrot cake recipe into cupcakes to say thank you to some co-workers. They loved 'em! Since this cake is super moist, making into them into cupcakes is ideal as well. I also put some of the batter into small ramekins, sliced baked cakes in half, and filled and topped with frosting for mini cakes.



Easiest Ever Carrot Cake
from my mother

¾ c. melted coconut oil or other oil
1 ½ c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
2 c. flour
2 tsp. soda
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. unsweetened, shredded coconut
2 c. shredded raw carrots
1 c. crushed pineapple with juice
1 c. chopped nuts, optional

Stir all cake ingredients together in large bowl. Bake in well-greased and floured 9x13 pan for 1 hour at 300˚ or until deep golden brown OR in two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans for 4-0-45 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cupcake version: line cupcake tins with 20 paper cups. Fill each cup 3/4 full and bake at 325 for 25 minutes or until deep golden brown. When cool, frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Note: Double this recipe if frosting a double layer round cake

1/2 pkg (4 oz) cream cheese
1/4 c. butter
1 1/2 to 2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat cream cheese and butter in bowl until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.

June 28, 2010

White Bean Roasted Red Pepper Dip and Crackers

This is an easy bean dip that could be served with baked pita chips (slice open pita into two flat disks, and then into wedges. Brush both sides of chips with olive oil and sprinkle with salt or other desired spices. Bake in 425 oven until golden brown), veggies, or home-baked crackers.

I have tried to make a few cracker recipes, but haven't been satisfied with the results, until I tried these Olive Oil Crackers. The dough was a little tough to roll out, but then my smart cells kicked in and I ended up using a pasta roller to roll the dough thin enough. My pasta roller goes from 1 to 7 for thickness. I found 7 to be too thin for the crackers; 6 was perfect.





White Bean Roasted Red Pepper Dip
from smittenkitchen.com

1 15-ounce can of white cannelini or navy beans
1 small jar roasted red peppers, or about 1 cup, drained
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice from half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Puree everything in a food processor until smooth.

Serve with baked pita chips.




Olive Oil Crackers
from racheleats.wordpress.com

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for brushing pan/crackers
coarse sea salt

Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in water and olive oil. Using your hands bring the ingredients together into a dough and knead it until it is smooth. Wrap the dough in a tea towel and let it rest in the fridge for an hour or so.

Set the oven to 350 and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.

Lightly dust your work surface and hands with flour. Pull off a walnut sized lump of dough and roll it into little sausage between your palms, then dusting with more flour as you work, roll the dough into a long, very thin, misshapen tongue on the floured board before laying it onto the lined baking tray.

Brush each length of dough generously with olive oil and sprinkle with some coarse sea salt like Maldon.

Put the tray in the preheated oven for 6 – 8 minutes. You need to keep an sharp eye on the timer and the crackers as they cook. They will, crisp, blister, curl at the edges and go very a pale golden colour (deep golden brown is too much). When they are ready, pull the tray from the oven and slide the crackers onto a wire rack. Cook the next batch.

The crackers will keep in a tin for a couple of days but I think they are best eaten still warm and brushed with more olive oil.

June 25, 2010

Sushi

I just discovered sushi in the last few years. Contrary to popular belief, sushi is not raw fish. Sushi refers to the rice preparation - basically, vinegared rice. Since my husband detests seafood, I often make veggie only sushi and sometimes add tuna from a can. This time I decided to try steak, and I loved it.



Sushi

Rice:
1 cup short grain rice (short grain or sticky rice is the key to sushi)
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. rice vinegar (unseasoned)

5-6 nori (seaweed sheets)
fillings - see below
condiments - see below

Combine rice and water in rice maker (or make on stove top - a rice maker is super easy. I highly recommend getting one.) and cook until rice is done. Combine sugar, salt, and rice vinegar in small saucepan. Cook and stir over high heat until sugar and salt dissolve - this does not take very long at all. Remove from heat. Pour over hot rice and stir to combine. Put rice in refrigerator to chill. I'm not sure how long it takes to chill - probably at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile prepare filling ingredients for sushi rolls. For steak, I seasoned a tender cut with salt and pepper and sauteed in a pan until medium well. After cooling for a few minutes, slice thinly. For veggies, cut into julienned strips. The thin strips allow the veggies to come together tightly when rolled.



Filling ideas:
carrots
cucumber
avocado
bell peppers
celery
scallions
tuna
steak
pickled ginger - this is a must ingredient. But then again I'm a ginger loving freak. Small jars are available that keep in the fridge since you most likely won't use all of it at one time

A bamboo rolling sheet is not necessary to make sushi rolls, but it does help. If using one, wrap in plastic wrap. You'll thank yourself later because cleaning dried up rice off the bamboo is not very easy. Lay the nori sheet on the bamboo sheet. Some say shiny side up or down, I can never remember and it works fine both ways. Have a dish of water nearby. Dip your hand in water and get a handful of chilled rice and start spreading over the nori. Keep dipping your hand in water as necessary. Spread rice all the way to the edge, except leave about an inch along the top of the sheet free of rice. Layer filling ingredients near bottom of sheet, opposite side of the rice free part.

Start rolling from the ingredient side and squeeze tight with each rotation. When all the way rolled up, use water to seal the nori to itself. Slice each roll into 6-8 slices.

Condiments
Pickled ginger
Wasabi sauce
Sauce made of soy sauce and chili oil with water added to dilute saltiness, if needed

June 22, 2010

Honey Chicken Wings

Growing up, my mom often made these chicken wings for New Year's Eve parties. So while I think of them as a December holiday appetizer, I made them just the other day. Paired with bread and salad, it's a tasty meal.

The trick to these is to keep baking the wings until they turn black and gooey. The sauce will go from runny to sticky(see photo). Warning: cleaning the pan afterwards is very hard work. Chicken wings come in drummette packages or whole. If using whole wings, cut into three sections and discard the bony tip. Frozen wings often come already cut up.


Honey Chicken Wings
3 lb. chicken wings, cut into drummettes (if frozen, thaw first)
1/2 c. ketchup
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 c. honey
1/2 c. soy sauce
2 large cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 375˚. Place chicken wings in 9x13 dish. In medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients until well blended. Pour over chicken to coat. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until sauce is thick and sticks to wings. Turn chicken often during the last 1/2 hour of baking.

June 21, 2010

CSA - Week 3

About a year ago, I read Laura Ingalls Wilder's last book These Happy Golden Years. In it she tells of the hardships of running a farm - Mother Nature plays such a roll in their success, or in their case, failure. It would be very difficult to be dependent on something totally out of one's control (weather and nature) for a livelihood.

The farm sponsoring the CSA sends out weekly emails with updates on how crops are faring, what will be available soon, and recipes for the produce. I can't help but compare their lives to the Wilders', and my respect grows for their chosen line of work.

This week I received pickling cucumbers, beets with greens attached, eggs, black raspberries, popcorn, yellow squash, zucchini, and garlic scapes.

I immediately made a smoothie with some of the black raspberries with leftover fruit (pineapple, cherries, frozen strawberries), plain yogurt, splash of milk, spoonful of protein powder, a few spoonfuls of ground almonds, and a dollop of peanut butter. Peanut butter is my secret ingredient in smoothies - it adds richness, flavor, and some hearty protein.

Just in time, smittenkitchen.com (one of my all-time favorite food blogs) posted a recipe for bread and butter pickles. I never knew how easy it is to make pickles! They keep in the fridge, but of course those preparedness types could can them (you know who you are). Since I only had two cucumbers, I made half this recipe.


Bread and Butter Pickles
from smittenkitchen.com as adapted from The Dispatch Kitchen and a few other sources

Makes 4 cups of pickles, filling a 1-quart jar

1 pound cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick — “pickling” or kirby cucumbers work best here
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds (if ground, use 1 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge. They will begin tasting pickled in just a couple hours.



I was new to beets until last year's CSA. A friend gave me this salad recipe using roasted beets. It's an easy, sweet way to try out beets if you're like me and a little unfamiliar with how to use them. They're also good shredded raw on a salad.

Beet Bliss Salad
from eatingwell.com

6 c. baby spinach
1 cup roasted cooked beets (see below)
1/2 cups Maple-Mustard vinaigrette (see below)
2 Tbsp. chopped toasted pecans
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Combine spinach and beets (cold or slightly warm) and top with vinaigrette, pecans, and goat cheese. Gently toss and serve.

Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
1/2 cup walnut or canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. coarse-grained mustard
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Roasted Beets
3 medium beets
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Rinse the beets and trim off any leafy tops. Wrap in aluminum foil and place in the oven. Roast until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel using a paring knife or by pushing the skin with your fingers.

Slice the beets, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Beet Greens (pictured above)
from Bergefurd's Farm

While this recipe calls for discarding the stems, if you want you can use them too if they aren't too woody. Just cut them into 1-inch segments and add them to the onions after the onions have been cooking for a minute.

1 pound beet greens
1 strip of thick cut bacon, chopped (or a tablespoon of bacon fat)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup of water
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/6 cup of cider vinegar

1. Wash the greens in a sink filled with cold water. Drain greens and wash a second time. Drain greens and cut away any heavy stems. Cut leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet or 3-qt saucepan, cook bacon until lightly browned on medium heat (or heat 1 Tbsp of bacon fat). Add onions, cook over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and start to brown. Stir in garlic. Add water to the hot pan, stirring to loosen any particles from bottom of pan. Stir in sugar and red pepper. Bring mixture to a boil.

3. Add the beet greens, gently toss in the onion mixture so the greens are well coated. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5-15 minutes until the greens are tender. Stir in vinegar. Serves 4.

June 20, 2010

Cherry Clafoutis

It's Father's Day. My dad is very far away, but I made this dessert in honor of him. He loves cherries. So if we were closer together, this is what I would have made for him.

Clafoutis is a French dessert with an almost custard base accompanied by fruit, usually cherries. I made mine in a cast iron skillet, which is a favorite pan of mine.

Cherry Clafoutis
from smittenkitchen.com as adapted from ceresandbacchus.com

3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups of cherries, pitted and halved

Pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Beat the sugar and the eggs with a wire whisk until they turn lighter in color. Gradually add the butter, beating to incorporate. Add the flour all at once and whisk until the batter is a homogeneous mixture. Next slowly pour in the milk a little at a time. Add the almond extract, mixing well. The batter should be very smooth and shiny.

Place the cherries in a buttered glass or earthenware baking dish, cake pan (9 or 10 inches in diameter) or skillet that can go in the oven. Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake in the pre-heated oven, approximately 30-40 minutes, until slightly browned and almost completely set in the middle. Let sit at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a plate and serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers are excellent for breakfast.

June 19, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

It's been strawberry heaven at my place for a few weeks now. Fruit pie works for breakfast, right?

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
from Betty Crocker

Pastry for two-crust pie
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp. grated orange peel
3 cups diced rhubarb
3 cups sliced strawberries
1 Tbsp. butter

1.  Heat oven to 425.
2.  Mix sugar, flour and orange peel in a large bowl.  Stir in rhubarb and strawberries.  Turn into a pastry-lined pie plate.  Dot with butter cut into small pieces.  Cover with top pasty that has slits cut in it; seal and flute.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Cover edge of crust with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning.  Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking.
3.  Bake about 55 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust.  Cool in pie plate on wire rack.

June 17, 2010

Strawberry Jam

I picked strawberries at a farm on Memorial Day. Berry picking always brings me a lot of joy. Some of the joy comes from knowing I did it myself, which would only be topped by actually growing the berries myself. But I have no yard, so this is not an option. Another reason I love berry picking is that I love berries! They are my favorite fruit.



I'm not a huge jam fan, but after making quick freezer jam with these berries, I may be a convert. The jam is a super vibrant color and is very tasty.

I bought the reduced-sugar pectin packet and used the reduced-sugar jam recipe. I can't tell there's sugar missing. The quick freezer recipe took no time at all with the most time being spent cleaning and hulling the strawberries.

Because we don't eat a lot of jam, and once it's thawed, it should be used within a few weeks, I made half the recipe from the pectin package and only filled my freezer containers half full. I'm loving the jam on a slice of 100% Whole Wheat Bread.



Strawberry Freezer Jam (Reduced Sugar)

4 cups fruit
3 cups sugar
1 box SURE.JELL For Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes Premium Fruit Pectin
1 cup water

Rinse clean plastic containers and lids with boiling water. Dry thoroughly.

Crush strawberries, leaving large chunks. Measure exactly 4 cups prepared strawberries into large bowl.

Mix sugar and pectin in large saucepan. Stir in water. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 min. Remove from heat. Add strawberries; stir 1 min. or until well blended.

Fill all containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or freeze extra containers up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator before using.

June 13, 2010

Angel Hair Tomato Basil Toss

I've been making this simple pasta dish for at least a decade.  It tastes great with fresh or canned/dried ingredients.  This makes a perfect accompaniment to chicken cutlets or chop cooked chicken and add to the pasta.  I added a few garlic scapes from my CSA share, which worked well, and I used a few leaves of fresh basil from my new plant.

Angel Hair Tomato Basil Toss
½ c. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c. sliced green onions
3 lg. tomatoes, peeled and diced (or 14 ½ oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and diced)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. coarse ground pepper
8 oz. angel hair pasta
grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and green onions, stir fry one minute. Stir in tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Prepare pasta, drain. Toss tomato mixture with pasta. Serve immediately. Sprinkle with cheese.

CSA - Week 2

Second week of CSA - strawberries, garlic scapes, radishes, spring onions, swiss chard, half dozen eggs, and basil.  


I sauteed the chard and spring onions and added to scrambled eggs with some cheese.   I added the garlic scapes and basil to some pasta (see angel hair pasta post) that calls for scallions.  I potted my basil, put it on my porch, and am going to try really hard to keep it alive.  I love fresh basil.

Lastly, I made strawberry shortcake.  I grew up eating strawberry shortcake on biscuit-like cake.  My husband thinks this is all wrong and that I'm weird for doing it.  A friend at work recently asked me if I made angel food cake, and I told her I don't think I ever have.  So when I came across a sheet cake recipe (I don't own a tube pan) for angel food cake in Martha Stewart's Living magazine, I decided to try it out.  Then I made strawberry shortcake with the angel food cake.

The angel food cake turned out, but it's definitely not one of my favorites.  Anything too light and fluffy just doesn't work for me.

Angel Food Sheet Cake
from Martha Stewart Living

vegetable oil cooking spray, for sheet and parchment
12 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
salt

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Coat a 13-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, and line with parchment.  Coat parchment with spray.
2.  Whisk whites and cream of tartar with a mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Slowly add 3/4 cup sugar, and whisk until thick and glossy, about 3 minutes.
3.  Sift remaining 1/2 cup sugar, the flour, and a pinch of salt over egg-white mixture, and fold gently until just combined, being careful not to deflate whites.  Spread batter evenly onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake until golden and set, about 20 minutes.
4.  Let cool completely in sheet on a wire rack.  (Cake should pull away from sides easily.)  Slide cake out from sheet, right side up.  Carefully remove parchment from cake.

June 11, 2010

Mexican Mom's Quesadilla

I learned how to make this delightful "sandwich" from my dad's coworker's wife who is from Mexico.  It's really very simple and basically a quesadilla, but somehow she made it seem more like a sandwich when she mentioned how she often packs these in her husband's lunch.

Mexican Mom's Quesadilla

flour tortillas (white or whole wheat)
black beans (canned works)
grated or sliced Monterey Jack cheese
thinly sliced smoked turkey lunch meat
thinly sliced red onion
sliced tomato
avocado, lightly mashed
butter

Heat a skillet and add butter over medium heat.  When butter is melted, swirl in pan and add one tortilla.  Top tortilla with beans and lightly mash to help the beans stick to the tortilla.  Layer cheese and then a layer of turkey on top (tear the slices to fit the tortilla so there's just one layer of turkey covering the tortilla).  Add another tortilla on top.

Cook for a few minutes until the bottom tortilla is golden brown.  Carefully flip the quesadilla to brown the other tortilla.  You'll want the second tortilla to get covered in butter so it can get golden brown as well.  My lazy way is to pick up the quesadilla with a spatula and before flipping it over, adding more butter, letting it melt, and swirling it around in the pan.  This is always a little precarious as the ensemble could easily fall off the spatula at any moment...A better suggestion would be to butter the second tortilla before adding it to the pan--that way when it's flipped, the tortilla will already have the butter it needs.  Cook the second tortilla side until it's golden brown.

Remove quesadilla from skillet.  Remove the tortilla that's touching the turkey and layer red onion and tomato and avocado.  Replace the tortilla.  Cut into quarters.  Eat warm.  This "sandwich" is also good cold or reheated later.  If eaten later, add red onion, tomato, and avocado just before eating to keep things fresh and unsoggy.

More Peanut Butter and Chocolate


These cookies take a little more work than most, but very worth it.  They're kind of a like a cookie version of a peanut butter cup.  Delish!



Magic Peanut Butter Middles
adapted from This Week for Dinner

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
granulated sugar, for rolling

In a small bowl blend flour, cocoa and baking soda. Mix until well blended.

In large bowl beat sugar, butter or margarine and 1/4 cup peanut butter, until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg, beat. Stir in flour mixture until blended. Set aside. Divide into 32 equal sized portions.

To make filling: Combine confectioner’s sugar and 3/4 cup peanut butter. Blend well. Roll filling into 32 1-inch balls.
For each cookie, with floured hands, flatten one portion of dough and shape it around one peanut butter ball, covering completely. Roll each cookie in granulated sugar and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie slightly with the bottom of a glass.

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 7-9 minutes. When cookies are done, they should be set and slightly cracked.

June 8, 2010

Waffles

When I headed off to college, it was known in my family that I couldn't really cook. The dorms I stayed in were apartment style with a kitchen. Immediately I tackled the task of making good food. That first Christmas I asked for a waffle iron. So my first, very own kitchen appliance was a waffle iron. I love waffles. Breakfast for dinner is the best dinner!

This waffle recipe originates from a cookbook compiled by my mom's college church congregation. Whipping the egg whites separately is a tip from my first roommate. These taste best right off the iron - I bake one and then eat it while the next one's baking. Halving this recipe makes a good amount for two people. Or any remaining batter can be stored in the fridge and made the next day. I also will bake up all the waffles and stick leftovers in the freezer. They taste great toasted in the toaster.

I sliced strawberries, sprinkled them with sugar, and let it sit overnight to make the sauce (the berries can sit for as little as 30 minutes with success as well). The sugar macerates the berries, so the juice is formed without any extra effort.


Waffles
3 c. Flour
4 eggs, separated
5 tsp. baking powder
2 ½ c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. sugar
2/3 c. oil

Whip egg whites with electric mixer until fluffy and stiff. In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients (including egg yolks) together with electric mixer. Fold in egg whites. Pour onto waffle iron and bake.

Strawberry Gelato

I think this strawberry gelato is divine. Mine turned out a bright pink color without adding the pomegranate juice, but my strawberries were picked ripe right off the bush. My sister would love this recipe - one of her favorites is strawberry ice cream. I'd love to make her some but she's a little far away (hint, hint).


Strawberry Gelato
from Bon Appetit

3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/4 cups sliced hulled strawberries (or 2 cups pureed strawberries)
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice (optional)

Stir sugar and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and cream. Whisk over medium heat until gelato base thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Pour into bowl. Cool over ice, stirring occasionally.

Puree strawberries in processor. Strain into gelato base. Mix in pomegranate juice. Chill 3 hours. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to container. Cover; freeze until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

CSA - Week 1

This is my second year belonging to a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) with a local farm.  I prepay to receive a share each week through October.  The farm provides whatever produce is ready that week.  The season starts out light with overflowing portions later on.  I thought it would be fun to record what I receive each week and how I incorporate the produce into meals.
This week's share included spring onions, radishes, popcorn, lettuce, strawberries, garlic scapes, and half dozen eggs (eggs not pictured).  Garlic scapes are the stem part of garlic.  They're firmer than scallions, but similar.  They have a garlic flavor, though it's less potent than garlic bulbs.  
Aren't these strawberries gorgeous?
This is the popcorn.  I put one ear of corn into a paper sack and microwaved it.  This photo shows the result - it really worked!  Well, not all of it popped, but my paper sack was big and didn't rotate in the microwave, which probably prevented even popping.

My uses of the produce weren't too exciting this week.  I did put the garlic scapes in a beef stir-fry.  They remained pretty firm and added nice garlic flavor.  Because they were already very ripe, I pureed the strawberries and dropped them by tablespoon into ice cube trays.  After they froze, I transferred them to a ziploc bag to save for later (cupcakes, gelato, add to smoothies or yogurt).

Savory Sandwich and Baguette

The Savory Sandwich Ring is a classic Pampered Chef recipe my mom (and now me) has been making for years.  When making it for dinner for my husband and me, I halve the recipe and just make the bread into a long, straight sandwich, not a ring.  I am not one to buy pre-made dough, but I admit I always used the refrigerated dough in this recipe, until now!  This time I made my own baguette using the Artisan Bread in Less than Five Minutes a Day recipe/method (see below).  It was really easy.  I recommend tearing out some of the insides of the baguette to make more room for the sandwich stuffing.

Blackberry Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake

Fruit cakes were my experiment this week.  I made a strawberry cake the other day, which was very similar to this cake.  I was pretty disappointed in the strawberry cake - it was pretty boring and the cooked strawberries just weren't very good.  I already had the ingredients for the Blackberry Rhubarb cake so I made it despite my worries it would turn out similar to the strawberry cake.  I was gladly proven wrong!  This cake is super moist, the lemon, blackberry and rhubarb compliment each other so well, and it looked lovely.

UPDATE 5/23/2011: I made this cake again and tried to make it more healthy. I successfully substituted half the flour with white whole wheat flour and only sprinkled one tablespoon of turbinado sugar on top instead of two. Both adjustments went unnoticed, which means success!


Blackberry Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 cup fresh blackberries
1/2 cup rhubarb, chopped
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and lemon zest. Mix until well combined.

4. At low speed, mix in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk. Start with the flour and end with the flour. Mix until just combined. Don’t over mix.

5. Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Scatter blackberries and rhubarb evenly over the top of the batter. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar.

6. Bake until cake is golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Let the cake cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely. Serve the cake upside down to show off the pretty berries and rhubarb. Cut into slices.

Serves 8

Arugula Salad with Almonds and Parmesan

Many of the restaurants in Italy have the menu in Italian and English.  On the English part of the menu, I noticed the ingredient "rocket" listed at several restaurants.  Finally I asked a waiter what it was, and he said that it is "salad."  Huh?  Salad on pizza?  It just didn't make sense.  Finally several months after my trip, I found a recipe on a blog that used the term rocket, and I figured out it was arugula, a type of green.  The Italian word is rucula, so I guess rocket sounds close to that.  Anyway, I have had rocket on pizza (even before Italy), and it's fabulous!

I found this salad in Everyday Food magazine in an article which also explained the vegetable's several names, so I was destined to eventually figure it out.  This salad is very simple but a perfect blend of flavors.  Eat it while the almonds are still warm from toasting (toss in an ungreased pan on high heat for several minutes until slightly browned).

Arugula Salad with Almonds and Parmesan
from Everyday Food

1/3 c. toasted raw almonds
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 bunch arugula (1/2 pound), trimmed
1/3 c. shaved Parmesan (1 ounce), plus more for serving

In a large bowl, combine almonds, oil, lemon juice, and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.  Add arugula and Parmesan and toss to coat.  Serve topped with more Parmesan.

June 7, 2010

100% Whole Wheat Bread

One of my goals is to make all my bread from scratch -- one day when I stay home for a majority of the day. I know I have a lot to learn to be successful at bread making. But I'm a little closer to mastering homemade bread because of a great book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I've made their basic recipe twice, and it was pretty good. Then I made the 100% Whole Wheat Bread - I am sold! I've attempted wheat bread before, but it never has been all whole wheat flour and still always turns out dry, crumbly, and just plain depressing. This whole wheat bread is soft and moist, and remained so over several days. I ate sandwiches on one loaf for five days and it was just as good on day five as day one.  Now I just need to get a wheat grinder and start grinding my own wheat. So much to do, so little time and space.

Since this recipe makes three loaves and the dough only lasts for five days, I made one loaf, and then the other two on days 4 and 5. The third loaf I put in the freezer since I didn't need it right away.



100% Whole Wheat Bread
from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Hertzberg and Francois

Makes 3 1 ½ pound loaves

1 ½ c. lukewarm water
1 ½ c. lukewarm milk
1 ½ Tbsp. yeast
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp salt
½ c. honey
5 Tbsp. neutral flavored oil, plus more for greasing the pan
6 ½ c. whole wheat flour

1. Mix the yeast, salt, honey, and oil with the milk and water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded food container.

2. Mix in the remaining ingredients without kneading using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor with dough attachment, or a heavy duty stand mixer with dough hook. If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

3. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temp until the dough rises and collapses, approx for 2 hours – 3 hours.

4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded container and use over the next 5 days.

5. On Baking Day lightly grease a 9x4x3 nonstick loaf pan. Using wet hands, scoop out a 1 1/2-pound (cantaloupe-sized) piece. Keeping hands wet, quickly shape it into a ball by stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on four “sides,” rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go, until the bottom is a collection of four bunched ends. Drop the loaf into the prepared pan. You want to fill the pan slightly more than half full.

6. Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Flour the top of the loaf an slash, using serrated bread knife.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on another shelf. If not using stone, preheat can be 5 minutes.

8. Place loaf on a rack near the center of oven. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 50to 60 minutes, or until deeply browned and very firm to the touch.

9.  Allow to cool on a rack before cutting or eating.

June 6, 2010

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli with Oyster Sauce

This is one of the best stir-fry recipes I've come across.  My husband loves it.  I think if he finds out it has oyster sauce in it, he might change his mind as he's not a fan of anything even remotely seafood related.  I especially like the red peppers - they add great contrasting color to the dish to make it pretty.


Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli with Oyster Sauce
from America's Test Kitchen

1 pound flank steak, sliced across the grain in 1/4” pieces
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. low-sodium chicken broth
5 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. cornstarch
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
3 Tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
1 ¼ lbs. broccoli, florets cut into bite-size pieces, stems trimmed,
peeled and cut on the diagonal 1/8 inch thick
1/3 c. water
1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
3 medium scallions, cut on the diagonal ½ inch thick

Combine the beef and soy sauce in a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring once. Meanwhile, whisk the chicken broth, oyster sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a measuring cup. Combine the garlic ginger, and 1 ½ tsp. of the peanut oil in a small bowl.

Drain the beef and discard the liquid. Heat 1 ½ tsp. of the peanut oil in a nonstick 12-inch skillet over high heat until smoking. Add half of the beef to the skillet and break up the clumps; cook without stirring, 1 minute, then stir and cook until the beef is browned about the edges, about 30 seconds. Transfer the beef to a medium bowl. Add 1 ½ tsp. of the peanut oil to the skillet, heat until just smoking, and repeat with the remaining beef.

Add 1 Tbsp. of the peanut oil to the now-empty skillet; heat until just smoking. Add the broccoli and cook 30 seconds; add the water, cover the pan, and lower the heat to medium. Steam the broccoli until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes; transfer to paper towel-lined plate.

Add the remaining 1 ½ tsp. peanut oil to the skillet; increase the heat to high and heat until just smoking. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until spotty brown, about 1 ½ minutes.

Clear the center of the skillet; add the garlic and ginger mixture to the clearing and cook, mashing the mixture with a spoon, until fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds, then stir the mixture into the peppers. Return the beef and broccoli to the skillet and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to recombine, then add to the skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, abut 30 seconds. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the scallions, and serve.

June 5, 2010

Classic Lasagne

This is my family's favorite lasagne.  It's definitely for meat lovers, as the main tastiness comes from the sausage.


Lasagne
from my mother

1 lb. bulk Italian sausage (1/2 lb. works just fine too)
1 medium onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 16-oz. can whole tomatoes
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
½ tsp. salt
9 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 16-oz. carton ricotta cheese
¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. oregano
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook and stir Italian sausage, onion and garlic in 10-inch skillet until sausage is light brown, drain. Add tomatoes (with liquid), tomato sauce, tomato paste, 2 Tbsp. parsley, sugar, basil, and ½ tsp. salt. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until mixture is consistency of thick spaghetti sauce, about 1 hour.

Cook noodles as directed. Reserve ½ c. of the sauce mixture. Mix ricotta cheese, ¼ c. Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp. parsley, 1 ½ tsp. salt and oregano. Layer 1/3 each of the noodles, remaining sauce mixture, mozzarella cheese and ricotta cheese mixture in ungreased oblong pan, 9x13. Repeat 2 times. Spoon reserved sauce mixture onto top; sprinkle with ¼ c. Parmesan cheese. Cook uncovered in 350˚ oven 45 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.