Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ham, bean and kale stew

I have so much leftover protein from before/Christmas/after that it's not even funny. Not even a little bit.
In a quest to do something with it other than just eat it over and over for dinner (don't worry, we froze it -- no food poisoning going on here, I hope), I've been looking for ways to "repurpose" our leftovers.
With the leftover standing rib roast, I made vegetable beef barley soup. And after we ate that for dinner, I froze the leftover soup for lunches.
With some of the leftover ham, I made this stew. I froze it all, because no one wants to eat bean soup in the house but me. (they're no fun) And it made a mighty fine lunch today, if I do say so myself.

adapted slightly from Serious Eats

1 pound dried beans such as Great Northern, Cannellini, or Tarbais, soaked in water at room temperature overnight. (I used Navy beans, actually)
1 pound leftover smoked ham bones, scraps, and/or meat
3 quarts low-sodium chicken stock or water (I used a combo of the two)
1 large onion, split
1 large clove garlic
3 bay leaves
Kosher salt
1 large bunch picked kale leaves (about 2 quarts loosely packed)
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Sherry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar, because that's what I had in the house)

Combine beans, ham, stock or water, onion, garlic, and bay leaves in large Dutch oven. Add 1 teaspoon salt (or not, I didn't) and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium low and simmer until beans are completely tender, about 45 minutes, adding water as necessary to keep beans covered at all times.. remove ham and set aside. Discard onion, garlic, and bay leaves.
When ham is cool enough to handle, shred meat into small pieces with fingers and return to pot with beans. Discard bones. Add kale to beans. Bring to a vigorous simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until some beans have broken down completely, liquid is reduced to thick stew-like consistency, and kale is completely tender, about 30 minutes longer.
Season to taste with additional salt and black pepper and serve immediately in shallow bowls, drizzling with plenty of extra-virgin olive oil (I omitted this) and a sprinkle of vinegar. Serve with crusty bread toasted with olive oil. (I did not have the bread, but I wish I did)

Cut out sugar cookies

It would have helped if I'd posted this recipe before Christmas, right? When you still had holiday baking to do and needed a quick, good sugar cookie recipe.
Consider this a jump start on next year's planning. These are good cookies, the dough is easy to work with, and they made the kids happy. All I need for a winning recipe.

from The Kitchn

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 ounces cream cheese (1/4 of a standard cream cheese package)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and add the sugar. Cream until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat until golden. Add the cream cheese and again beat until well incorporated. Add the flavorings and lemon zest.
Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then add, bit by bit, to the butter/sugar mixture until fully incorporated.
Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.
Heat the oven to 350° F. Divide the dough into smaller balls and roll out 1/4 to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out cookies.
Bake cookies for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. The small, thinner ones started browning after about 8 minutes, and I didn't want these brown at all. The larger ones had a slight golden bottom after 11 minutes, which was perfect for my purposes.
Let cool before icing or decorating, and store in a tightly covered container.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

spicy gingerbread cookies

I need a break from Christmas, but give me a couple days and I'll need one last go 'round. SAK and I were hoping to bake cookies but we didn't fit it in yet, so we're going to make these. I hope she'll want to eat them, considering how spicy Smitten says they are...more for me with my daily pot of tea! (One cup of molasses people! It's winter and we need our iron!)


From Smitten Kitchen who says...
Barely adapted from Martha Stewart, who knows a thing or two about gingerbread

This gingerbread is spicy and dark, chewy but sturdy and only a little sweet. If you’re used to more tepid gingerbread men, it will surprise you. If you always found gingerbread a little boring, it will delight you.

6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 1/2 pound) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses

To decorate:
Royal icing
Various fine sanding sugars and sugar decorations

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Beat butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture, mixing on low until just combined. Divide dough into thirds and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold and firm, about one hour or up to two days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes of your choice, such as snowflakes* or gingerbread men. Spread two inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until the cookies firm up again, about 15 minutes.

Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

When cool, you can decorate the cookies with icing and sprinkles. When you pipe designs, sprinkle the icing with sanding sugar and let it sit for five minutes before tapping off the excess sugar. Then let the icing set completely at room temperature, which will take an hour or so, depending on how thick it is.

Store cookies between layers of parchment or waxed paper in an airtight container for up to a week.

* By the way, I don’t recommend my snowflake cookie cutter set as you will grow gray hairs trying to get the cookie cutter back from the dough without pulling off some icicles. Look for a set with less intricate details.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Garlic butter roasted mushrooms

We had these with our Christmas dinner, and they were fantastic.

I didn't change a thing, other than to omit the salt, because my mom is on a low sodium diet.

So here, go to Smitten Kitchen and make these mushrooms.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Doneen's Baked Oatmeal

Ok, this recipe was originally from my mom's employee, Doneen. I've made it many times as is, but this morning I doctored it up a bit. I'll put my additions in italics.

1/4 C. oil or applesauce (I used homemade applesauce I had canned)
1/2 C. sugar (I used half white sugar and half brown sugar)
1 egg
1.5 C. quick oats (I used old fashioned oats)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C. milk
1/2 C. raisins, soaked first in hot water, then drained
dash of nutmeg
dash of allspice
dash of cinnamon
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced


Preheat oven to 350.

Cream oil (or applesauce), sugar and egg. Add oats, baking powder, salt, milk, raisins, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon; mix well.

Spray an 8" baking dish with non-stick spray, or grease with butter. Place diced apples in the baking dish. Pour oatmeal mixture over apples in the baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with milk.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Turkey Meatloaf with Gouda and Mushrooms

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Foods.

I happened to catch an episode of Everyday Foods on PBS about a week ago and this was one of the dishes featured. Michael and I really liked it and very happily ate the leftovers for lunch for the next 2 days.

Serves 6.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 shallots or half of a small onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup cup shredded gouda cheese (4 ounces) (Martha used Fontina but I used what I had on hand)
1 slice day-old bread, cubed -or- 2 handfuls of panko
1 handful of rolled oats
1 large egg
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves (I used dried sage)
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (93 percent lean)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Cook mushrooms, stirring once or twice, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Return skillet to medium and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add to bowl with mushrooms; season with salt and pepper and let cool.

Add cheese, bread, egg, oats and sage to bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Mix in turkey, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place mixture into a greased 9x5 bread tin and bake until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. I served it with a salad of mixed greens and roasted potatoes. Also good cold as a sandwich.

Candied Yams with Apples and Cranberries

Geoff and I made this for Thanksgiving, and it was a hit. Bonus #1: it's done in the crock pot, which frees up your oven. Bonus #2: it makes the house smell really good.

Source: Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker: Recipes for Entertaining, by Beth Hensperger
Serves 6-8

Size of slow cooker: medium or large round or oval (Hensperger defines medium as 3-4.5 quarts and large as 5-7 quarts).
Setting and cook time: Low for 6-7 hours

* 2 pounds yams, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
* 2 medium-size tart cooking apples, such as Fuji or pippin, peeled, cored, quartered, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
* one 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
* 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 cup unfiltered apple or pear juice (see note below)
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

1. Coat the inside of the crock with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Alternate slices of the yams and apples in the crock, in overlapping layers. Sprinkle with the cranberries. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl; sprinkle over the cranberries. Drizzle with the apple juice and dot with the butter.

2. Cover and cook on LOW until the yams are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 6 to 7 hours. Serve hot from the crock.

Note: We had to go to a couple of grocery stores in order to find unfiltered apple juice. I think you could substitute apple cider, or even water, and it'll turn out ok.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

winter pasta (with dark leafy greens)

We had so much kale and other miscellaneous dark leafy greens from our CSA, and this used them up delightfully. The taste certainly comes through, but it's tempered by the creamy goat cheese and the sharp lemon. Originally from 101 Cookbooks. (Kelly, I was wrong -- not Simply Recipes after all!)

Her notes: I used penne here, but you can substitute whatever pasta you like. Spinach can be substituted for the kale if you like as well.

My notes: I used some fancypants spinach egg noodles that I got for Chanukah. And I definitely will be using other random leafy greens the CSA chooses to throw at us.

4 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 small shallots, peeled [I used a regular white onion)
1 small bunch of kale - 1/2 lb / 8 oz, stalks removed, washed well [mine was two ziplocs full of curly and straight and who knows what kinds of kale]
1/3 cup / 80 ml extra virgin olive oil [I just used a glug or so]
1/3 cup / 2 oz goat cheese, plus more for topping
2 tablespoons + hot pasta water [oops, forgot this. there was plenty of water as I was blending the veggies]
fine grain sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
fresh lemon juice - optional [I believe this is not optional]
12 oz / 340 g dried penne pasta
fresh thyme - and thyme flowers [that would have been cool but I did not have]

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water generously, and add the garlic and shallots. Boil for 2-3 minutes, stir in the kale and cook for another ten seconds. Don't overcook.

Working quickly, use a slotted spoon or strainer to fish the greens, garlic, and shallots from the water. Use a food processor [I used my immersion blender] to puree the ingredients along with the olive oil and goat cheese. Add a couple tablespoons of hot pasta water if needed to thin things out if needed. Then season with a touch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Taste.

Depending on your goat cheese, you might need a little extra acidic oomph [yup] if your sauce is a bit flat. If so, add fresh lemon juice a bit at a time until you're happy with it the sauce. Set aside.

Reheat the pot of water and boil the pasta per package instructions. Drain and toss immediately with the green sauce. Serve topped with a few pinches of fresh thyme, and more crumbled goat cheese.

Serves 4-6.

Prep time: 10 min - Cook time: 10 min

Salmon with Soba Noodle and Edamame

Adapted from the Lake Austin Spa Resort recipe from Shape Magazine.

Serves approx. 6

12 oz. buckwheat noodles
1 C shelled edamame
2 cloves garlic
1 inch piece ginger, peeled
1/3 C hoisin sauce (I omitted b/c I was out and just added more of the other ingredients)
1/3 C mirin
1 T + 1 t brown sugar
2 t sesame oil
1-2 t chili sauce (I use Sambal Olek)
2 t fish sauce
2 T soy sauce or tamari
1 C grated carrot
1 C red and yellow peppers, julienned
1 C sliced water chestnuts
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 C fresh cilantro (omitted)
2 T black and white sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1.25 lbs center-cut salmon fillet*

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add noodles and edamame. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until soba is al dente. Drain noodles and edamame and rinse under cool water; set aside.

In a food processor, add garlic thru soy sauce/tamari and whiz until blended. Pour noodles and edamame in a large bowl and add veg. Pour over sauce and sesame seeds and toss to combine. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Preheat grill or broiler to medium heat. Cut salmon into 6 equal pieces; cook salmon for 8-10 minutes depending on thickness and desired doneness achieved. Transfer to plate to cool slightly then remove skin. Serve with noodle salad.

*Without any sauce on the salmon or any marinade beforehand, the fish was a little boring. Also, while I enjoy the taste of grilled salmon, sometimes it's just easier to open a little can of salmon and toss with the salad which is how we ate it on subsequent days. I flaked the remaining fish and just tossed it all together before portioning out into containers. Makes a tasty lunch but be warned that you will want to munch on some Altoids later as it is a bit garlicky and onion-y.

**Would also be good with grilled tofu or other protein of choice.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Creamy Delicata Squash Soup

Adapted from: Allrecipes.com

I adapted this to make it healthier, and it still tasted great. I used Kelly's go-to substitute for heavy cream: a can of evaporated skim milk. It was still rich and creamy, minus all the fat. I also scooped out and baked the seeds from the squash, just like pumpkin seeds!

3 delicata squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 medium onions, chopped
2-3 cups vegetable broth, depending on how thick you want it
12 oz can of evaporated skim milk
1 tablespoon butter
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Place the squash, cut sides down, in a baking dish. Bake 35-40 minutes or until tender. Cool.

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until onion is softened but not brown.

Scrape the squash out of the flesh and add to onions. Add the stock and heavy evaporated milk. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Hoisin ginger pork

This is in the slow cooker right now. You can eat it over rice with some veggies (like we plan to do) or make some sort of lettuce wraps. Get some fresh rice paper at the Asian store and wrap it in that! I bet it's even good in a whole wheat tortilla.

1 giant pork roast -- mine was about 8 pounds, I think
ginger -- a lot. I used the stuff in the squeezy tube, because I had it and it was easy. If not, just get a huge piece and grate it up.
6-8 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bottle hoisin sauce, 12-15 ounces -- again, get thee to an Asian market. Hoisin sauce is cheap there, and you can buy it in big bottles.

Plop that pork roast in the slow cooker. Put the grated ginger (or the squeezy ginger) on top. Throw in the garlic cloves. Pour the hoisin on top.
Cook for 10 hours, or until the pork is able to be shredded with 2 forks. (Freeze all the extras, and you've got a couple meals!)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Kahlua Spiked Pecans

Yum! Yuuuuuuummmmmmmmm! These were really super awesome good. Very easy, take no time at all to make, and your house will smell amazing.

Adapted from: Culinary in the Desert

1 cup granulated sugar (a little less would probably be fine, too)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white
4 tablespoons Kahlua
4 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 325

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg white and Kahlua. Add pecans and stir well to combine.

Sprinkle half the sugar mixture on top - mix well. Pour the rest of the sugar on top and stir until completely combined. Scoop the mixture onto a large baking sheet lined with foil and coated with nonstick spray. Spread the pecans to an even single layer.

Bake until pecans are lightly toasted and browned, stirring every 10 minutes - about 20 to 25 minutes total. Remove from the oven and scoop the hot pecans onto wax or parchment paper to cool completely.

Chocolate Puddle Cookies

From: 101 Cookbooks

These cookies are like chocolate meringues full of walnuts. I made them to put into the holiday goodie box for my intern, who is gluten-intolerant. These aren't my favorite cookie overall, but they were a pretty good gluten-free choice.

3 cups / 11 oz / 310 g walnut halves, toasted & cooled
4 cups / 1 lb / 453 g confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons / 2 oz / 60 g unsweetened cocoa powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon real, good-quality vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 320F / 160C degrees and position racks in the top and bottom third. Line three (preferably rimmed) baking sheets with parchment paper. Or you can bake in batches with fewer pans.

Make sure your walnuts have cooled a bit, then chop coarsely and set aside. Sift together the confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder, and sea salt. Stir in the walnuts, then add the egg whites and vanilla. Stir until well combined.

Spoon the batter onto the prepared sheets in mounds of about 2 tablespoons each, allowing for PLENTY of room between cookies. These cookies are like reverse Shrinky Dinks - they really expand. Don't try to get more than 6 cookies on each sheet, and try to avoid placing the batter too close to the edge of the pan.

Bake until they puff up. The tops should get glossy, and then crack a bit - about 12 -15 minutes. Have faith, they look sad at first, then really blossom. You may want to rotate the pans top/bottom/back/front.

Slide the cookies still on parchment onto a cooling rack, and let them cool completely. They will keep in an airtight for a couple days.

Makes 18 large cookies.

Baked Brie with Apricot Topping

From: Taste of Home

I made this as one of the dishes for our Christmas party last night and it went over well. In the past I used to use a cranberry-apple chutney topping from TJ's, but they discontinued it this year, so I found this recipe to try instead. Everyone liked it, even though most people couldn't figure out what was in it. :)

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Dash salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 round Brie cheese (8 ounces)

In a small saucepan, combine the apricots, brown sugar, water, vinegar and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in rosemary. Remove rind from top of cheese. Place in an ungreased ovenproof serving dish. Spread apricot mixture over cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is softened. Serve with crackers. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Friday, December 17, 2010

One point Asian soup

This is a Weight Watchers recipe, which I modified slightly from Veggie Venture. She says it's either one point or zero points, depending on how you choose to identify it.
I tasted it after it finished cooking, and it's really, really good. I'm going to stick it in the freezer for easy lunches for the next two weeks, when I'll need a break from all the holiday overindulgence.
(Plus, I'm going to be counting points for real in just a few weeks, so I'm going to need recipes like this in my back pocket!)

6 cups vegetable broth (I used 6 cups water and vegetable Better than Bouillon)

2 cups bok choy, chopped
2 cups Chinese/Napa cabbage, chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, thinly sliced and julienned (they somehow didn't have ginger in the store when I went last week, so I bought this ginger puree in a tube. I just squirted some in)
4 oyster mushrooms, sliced thin (they didn't have any oyster mushrooms either. I threw in a whole container of white button mushrooms, washed and sliced for me)
1 bunch green onions, sliced
8 ounce can of sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 red pepper, halved, cored, each half cut into three sections lengthwise, each section sliced thin cross-wise (omitted, because I forgot this in the store)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (this is spicy, cut down if you don't want it so spicy)
2 cups snow peas
Bean sprouts (I don't know how many, I used the whole bag)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
miso paste (optional -- I used this per a commentor's suggestion, but you don't have to)

Collect all the vegetables except the snow peas and bean sprouts in a cold large pot or Dutch oven. When those vegetables are prepped, add the hot water, cover and bring to a boil on medium high. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the bean sprouts and snow peas, cook another 5 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce and 1 tsp. miso paste)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

orange soup

Based on this recipe for winter squash, red lentil and chickpea stew, but with fewer ingredients. It comes out very orange.

Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 medium carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1 pound pumpkin or winter squash, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
plain nonfat yogurt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve squash and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle with cayenne, salt and black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until squash is squashy. Scoop out squash and cut into chunks. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat oil and add onions and carrots and cook until beginning to soften. Stir in broth, lentils and all the spices. Bring to a boil, then throw in the squash and reduce heat.

Simmer until lentils are beginning to fall apart, about 15 minutes. Stir in lime juice, and ladle into bowls, topped with cilantro, yogurt and peanuts.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vanilla Bean Caramels

adapted just slightly from: Annie's Eats

My first attempt at a recipe that requires a candy thermometer! These were actually very easy to make, and I am going to put them in the goody boxes that I give to my coworkers on Friday (along with a couple of kinds of cookies). I used fleur de sel from Williams-Sonoma, because I wasn't sure if the regular coarse sea salt that I already had in my cabinet would be too salty or not. I even had to substitute some of the sugar for turbinado, because I was inexplicably out of sugar. I ended up using about 1/2 regular and 1/2 turbinado, and it still turned out just fine.

Yield: 64 caramels

Ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and scraped
1¼ tsp. fleur de sel, plus more for sprinkling
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup water

Directions:
Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Lightly butter the parchment.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream, butter, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, pods, and fleur de sel. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is a light golden caramel color.

Remove the vanilla bean pods from the cream mixture and carefully stir the cream mixture into the caramel – the mixture will bubble up, so pour slowly and stir constantly. Continue simmering the mixture until it registers 248˚ F on a candy thermometer (keep an eye on it so it doesn't bubble over or burn - I continued to stir it while it heated up to temp). Immediately remove from the heat and pour into the prepared pan. Let cool for 15 minutes, then sprinkle lightly with additional fleur de sel. Continue to let sit until completely set and cooled. Cut into 1-inch pieces (a buttered pizza cutter works well). Wrap the individual caramels in small pieces of wax or parchment paper, about 4-inch squares.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

vegetable moussaka

This is so good that I just opted to eat it for lunch AND dinner, despite the fact that there is leftover Thai food in the fridge. I don't even recognize myself right now.

From a blog called An Edible Mosaic. I doubled the recipe, which made it fit in a 9x13 casserole dish, and I substituted some winter veggies from our CSA for the eggplant.

(Yield: 2 servings) [I got 6 out of doubling it somehow; didn't measure any of my vegetables]

Eggplant:
1 small (1/2 lb) eggplant, thinly sliced into about 1/4-inch rounds
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

[I used two large leeks and a medium-sized acorn squash.]

Quinoa/Tomato Layer:
1/4 c quinoa
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c tomato sauce (store-bought or homemade…if you want to make homemade, roasted tomato sauce or thick marinara sauce would be nice)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried mint [I didn't have this and probably threw in about 2 t Italian seasoning]
Pinch allspice
Salt and pepper

Greek Béchamel:
1 TB unsalted butter
2 TB all-purpose flour
3/4 c milk (low-fat or fat-free is fine)
1 egg yolk [I didn't have this and used another T Earth balance instead... worked fine]
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
1-2 TB grated Kefalotiri cheese (you can use Pecorino Romano cheese if you can’t find Kefalotiri) [I used about 2 T Romano and 4 T shredded gruyere instead]

16 oz gratin dish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For eggplant: Preheat broiler. Arrange sliced eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet; brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil for 3-8 minutes on each side, until the eggplant is tender and golden.

[I halved the acorn squash and roasted it, cut side up with a little olive oil, at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until I could peel and cut it easily.]

For quinoa/tomato layer: Soak quinoa in cold water for 15 minutes. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve, then thoroughly rinse it under cold running water.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a small/medium saucepan with a lid over medium to medium-low heat; add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. [I added the leeks in this step too.]

Add garlic and sauté another 30 seconds. Transfer the rinsed quinoa, 1/2 c water, and a pinch of salt to the saucepan with the onion/garlic mixture.

Bring to a boil over medium heat with the lid off; once it boils, give it a stir, cover it, and turn heat down to a gentle simmer.

Cook 14 minutes, turn the heat off, and let it sit with the lid on for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Stir tomato sauce, oregano, mint, and a pinch of allspice into quinoa. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

For béchamel: Warm the milk in a small saucepan over low heat.

In a separate small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter, then whisk in flour and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute. Slowly whisk in warm milk and cook until smooth, about 1 minute; turn off heat and whisk in a pinch of nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Slowly whisk 1/4 c of the béchamel sauce into the egg yolk, only adding a little at a time.

Add egg yolk mixture to the saucepan with the rest of the béchamel, turn the heat on low, and cook 1-2 minutes until thickened.

To assemble: Arrange half of the eggplant in the bottom of a 16 oz gratin dish; spread the quinoa/tomato mixture evenly on top of the eggplant. Arrange the remaining eggplant on top of the quinoa/tomato mixture; pour the béchamel on top and sprinkle on the grated cheese. Bake about 35 minutes, or until light golden brown on top.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Chana Punjabi

Last week we threw a baby shower for one of our interns who is due in a couple of weeks. She has been craving Indian food throughout her pregnancy, and is also gluten-intolerant. SO....we threw a gluten-free, vegetarian, Indian-food baby shower for her on Friday. Yum! Everything was so good and the office smelled amazing all afternoon.

Anyway, this was my contribution. I tripled the recipe, cooked it the night before, and then brought it to work in a crockpot and reheated it before the party. I think you could probably cook the whole thing in the crockpot if you wanted- just cook the sauce ingredients for awhile, puree, then add the chickpeas and cook longer. Served it with chopped cilantro on top. Adapted slightly from The Wednesday Chef.

Serves 2-4.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 small Thai bird chili, chopped or 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or as needed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
Cooked rice for serving (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, heat oil and add onion. Sauté until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and chili, and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cover and cook until tomatoes are very soft, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

2. Purée mixture in blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pan and place over medium heat. Add paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, coriander, the garam masala, turmeric and lemon juice. Add chickpeas and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.

3. Cover and simmer until sauce is thick and chickpeas are soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir pan about every 10 minutes, adding water as needed (up to 1 1/2 cups) to prevent burning. When ready to serve, sauce should be thick. If necessary, uncover pan and allow sauce to reduce for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until desired consistency. Stir in cilantro, adjust salt as needed and serve with cooked rice, if desired.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkles

You'd think all I do is bake bread and cookies, wouldn't you? I swear that I cook regular food, too. I made these to serve at our holiday open house tomorrow and they are quite tasty and festive. But not so festive that you couldn't serve them at another time of year. Or leave out the peppermint extract and sub in another. Add more espresso powder, sub a smidge of coffee liqueur and make them more coffee flavored. BTW, you'll want to give these a rest in the fridge before baking--at least 2 hours or overnight. Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

Adapted from Cooking Light and Bakers Royale.

4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 1/4 teaspoons canola oil
1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate chips (good stuff like Ghiradelli not Nestle)
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules or instant coffee granules
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
2 large egg whites

For rolling:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Combine oil and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat; cook until chocolate melts, stirring constantly. Add espresso granules to pan; stir until blended. Remove from heat. Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl; cool 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, syrup, peppermint and vanilla. Add egg whites, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring gently just until combined. Cover; chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350°.

3. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Dredge balls in 1/2 cup powdered sugar mixed with 1/4 cup granulated sugar; place balls 2 inches apart on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until tops are cracked and almost set. Cool cookies on pan 2 minutes or until set; remove from pan. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

A few notes: this dough tends to get soft quickly so only take out maybe half the dough at a time. The warmer the dough is before baking the more the cookies spread and less crackled they look. Also, you don't make more balls that you can bake at a time b/c the cookies start absorbing the sugar (which is why you add some granulated sugar to help prevent this). They are a bit fussy to make but are so chocolately and pepperminty that it's worth the effort. Also a great recipe for a cookie exchange.

the ultimate apple crisp recipe

Created by my friend Ann and published by Joy the Baker. I made this last night and now I will never use another recipe.

I'm sure you could do some tinkering if you wanted -- and actually, now that I think about it, I did omit the nuts and use Earth Balance instead of butter. I also have a ridiculous surplus of apples from the first delivery of our CSA, so I just filled up a 9x13 glass dish with apples and left the amount of topping the same... and it was still perfect. Crunchy topping, ridiculously gooey and caramel-y inside.

Filling:
5 to 6 medium-size apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices. (About 7.5 cups) [mine was probably more like 10?]
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1.5 tsp cinnamon

Topping:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, well-softened [I used Earth Balance]
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
1/3 cup quick oats [I used traditional]

Preheat the oven to 350. Generously grease an 8×8 baking pan with butter.

Place a layer of apple slices in the bottom of the pan and dust with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Continue layering apples and dusting with cinnamon/sugar until done. Toss the apple mixture until evenly coated in cinnamon sugar. The apples should be just about to the top of the pan (they will cook down).

For the topping, place the flour, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon and oats in a large bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon. Work the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until evenly distributed. Take one full handful of the topping and toss it into the sugared apple mixture. Spread the rest of the topping evenly over the apples. (I usually end up with a dough-like topping that I just lay on top of the apples).

Bake the crisp in the dish on a baking sheet on the center oven rack until the topping is crunchy and the apples are bubbling, 55-60 minutes.

Serve hot; it’s excellent with vanilla ice cream.